New Ulm – As with most places in the United States, there has been a shortage of corrections officers in Brown County for more than five years.
We are losing three of them this month. Two went to other counties, and one to a job in the city,” Brown County Jail Director Steve Appel said.
The Corrections and Law Enforcement work fields have a lot of opportunity and scope for growth.
“Often, people use corrections and/or submissions as a stepping stone to learning the business and moving into a position as a licensed officer or some probation.” Brown County Sheriff Jason Seidel said.
“Sometimes we get on with people for a short period of time. Sometimes we get on with people for a very long time,” Seidl added.
“In a little while, we will lose six corrections officers out of our full staff of 15. We work at the prison 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Weekends, nights and holidays.”
Seidel said more and more prison inmates are dealing with mental health issues, including disorders.
“There is more serious drug abuse,” Abel said.
Seidl said that corrections officers deal with individuals who are bound by the courts to divide human services and are awaiting appointment. These individuals are supposed to be released from prison within 48 hours, but the average wait for placement is about 60 days.
Appel said some individuals with mental health issues end up in a hospital emergency room for three to six days and end up back to square one, back to jail.
“It’s a frustrating procedure,” he added. “There is nowhere else for them to go.”
Appel said the problem stems from the state of Minnesota closing state hospitals in favor of condominiums.
“They have been trying to move from government hospitals to community-based models for several years and integrate people back into communities,” he said. Seidel said.
“Now it flows into the prisons,” Abel said. “The system needs to be fixed. I don’t have an answer but it will take a lot of money to get it working again. The resources are not there now. They are relying on prisons that are not equipped to handle people with mental illnesses.”
Mankato-based Horizon Homes, Inc. serves Crisis Services Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Freeborn, Le Sur, Martin, Nicolette, Rice, Sibley, and Watonwan with a South Central Crisis Center, mobile crisis team, and crisis line, Seidel said.
“It’s a case when an officer goes to a call and someone is in a crisis. They’ll go out or call an individual after the officer leaves the scene. It’s voluntary,” she said. Seidel said.
Crisis Mobile Services provides 24 hours a day, seven days a week support with all volunteer services for children, adolescents, and adults experiencing a mental health crisis via telehealth or in person at home, at school, or in any other location of the customer’s choosing.
Crisis and risk assessment and treatment plans focus on problem-solving and coping strategies, resources and information for local population services, crisis prevention, and brief and ongoing support through stabilization.
Services are provided in English and other languages by Language Line Solutions. Grant funding is available if insurance does not cover the services.
The South Central Crisis Center provides a 16-bed short-term crisis unit. Residence times range from a few hours to 10 days.
Brown County Corrections Officers have an hourly salary range of $23.60 to $26.46 with full earning potential of $33.26 per hour, depending on qualifications and experience.
Qualifications include at least one year of post-secondary education in law enforcement, corrections, sociology, or a related field and two years’ related experience, high school diploma or GED, and four years’ related experience.
Current first responder certification preferred. Other qualifications Use judgment and problem-solving skills in dealing with inmates, respond effectively in emergency and stressful situations, good written and verbal skills.
A pre-employment physical and drug screen, psychological evaluation, and background investigation are required.
For more information, visit www.horizonhomes.org; www.governmentjobs.com/careers/brownmn and co.brown.mn.us.