MN Prison Chief: If Same Inmate Walks Out In 5 Years, “We’ve Failed”


Tom Roy, appointed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton in January to lead the corrections department, started his career as a probation and parole officer in 1974. Roy, 58, has a staff of 4,200 employees overseeing 9,400 adult inmates and 100 juveniles. He tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “We are not in a prison population crisis. County jails around the state are in relatively good shape. There is a lot of capacity in the counties for local offenders. Minnesota was way out in front with sentencing guidelines. Coupling that with the Community Corrections Act, which set the philosophy to put more offenders back in the community under a probation treatment model, those two things really led to a controlled prison growth.”

He adds: “Prisons are often the forgotten element of the criminal justice system until things go badly. Catching the guy and prosecuting him is really important work, but if we don’t do anything with that individual after we’ve got him, then shame on us. If all that effort goes to waste and we just open the doors five years later, and it’s the same guy walking out the door and the same criminal thinking, we’ve failed in our mission.”

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