DOC stops paying for transport costs

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, February 12, 2011


A state statuate holds that the state Department of Corrections reimburse sheriff’s departments for transportation of prisoners, but the DOC stopped paying those funds last year. - Eric Johnson/


Pay up.

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That’s the message Minnesota sheriffs are passing along to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

The DOC is supposed to reimburse each sheriff a flat fee for transporting inmates to state correctional facilities, but the DOC stopped paying the funds last year.

“They are required by state statute to provide funding for this,” Sheriff Terese Amazi said. “If all of us just said, ‘Gee, we don’t have the money,’ how would we get our jobs done? It just doesn’t work that way.”

In 2010, the Mower County Sheriff’s Office did not receive $2,500 in transport reimbursements. The explanation is that the DOC ran out of money.

“It’s not an exorbitant amount, but it’s still money that’s got to come from somewhere,” Amazi said.

That’s now carried over in 2011, and sheriffs from all 87 counties are calling for the DOC to pony up to their responsibilities. The DOC’s response, according to Amazi, is that they didn’t budget for the costs and didn’t tell the counties the reimbursements wouldn’t be covered.

Amazi said the Sheriff’s Association is talking about filing a class action lawsuit against the DOC.

“We’re trying to work with these folks, but they send mandates down to us all the time, and by god, you better obey them,” Amazi said. “They didn’t do the same.”

Amazi said the costs are the responsibility of the state, not counties. Once a person is sentenced to a state facility, they become a ward of that state, which means the Department of Corrections is responsible for the costs.

The state DOC is then responsible for transport cost to and from state prisons, whether it be for an appeal or after the inmate was sentenced.

DOC officials never told sheriff’s they wouldn’t reimburse the funds, according to Amazi. The state just quit sending reimbursements, and sheriffs began to talk. Then prison staff soon began declining to sign when deputies dropped off an inmate, which is required to receive the funding.

“It’s really sneaky,” Amazi said.

So far, Amazi said she’s been able to work around the missing money, but she said such reductions in the state ultimately fall on taxpayers.

“The state needs to pony up,” Amazi said.