GUEST VIEW: In praise of our area prison staff
May 15, 2020
We have heard several disheartening stories from staff members at the Moose Lake and Willow River prisons about the fear and stigma they face after doing their day’s work since the COVID-19 outbreaks. We are writing to thank the men and women in the Department of Corrections for their work each day. A crisis has the unique ability to focus our hearts and minds on what is most important — family, friends, shelter, safety. During the workday, dedicated corrections officers often find themselves in dangerous situations ensuring safety and security at the facilities in our communities. Outside the workday, they deserve our gratitude for their service.
Since the pandemic emerged, there has rightfully been a lot of focus on health care workers and care providers working a job that is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Let’s keep in mind corrections officers have the same obligation to their positions around the clock as well. Managing the prison system and its population isn’t something you can take a break from because you’re tired. It’s not something you can suspend support to because there’s a pandemic. The health and well-being of the entire corrections system — for corrections officers and offenders alike — is at risk during a situation such as the one we’re experiencing.
We know congregate living and working situations can quickly become a hotspot for infections and disease. Corrections officers have diligently stepped up their routines to keep everyone working and living in the prison system healthy and safe. They’ve recognized that to keep the whole community healthy, the locations most susceptible need to be taken seriously right from the start, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
We’re extremely grateful for the work corrections officers are doing, and we want to thank them for their dedication to their jobs and their community. They deserve our appreciation for the risks they take every day — that are only magnified in a time of crisis — to keep us safe. To every DOC employee: Thank you.
Sen. Jason Rarick and Rep. Mike Sundin represent
Carlton County residents in the Minnesota Legislature.