ROCHESTER, MINN. (KTTC) – Veterans and Emergency Services Museum Round Table is a group that strives to honor and educate by sharing stories of veterans and community members.
Monday night, the audience heard first-hand about what needs to change for the better.
The group heard from a retired corrections officer speaking about what actually goes on inside the criminal justice system.
“In recent, we’ve lost two correction workers in the state of Minnesota in the last few months. One was assaulted, one died responding to an alarm,” retired corrections officer Loren Else said. “It’s a dangerous job.”
Is there a need for prison reform?
“Recent studies show that correctional officers have a high mortality rate and a higher rate of suicide, divorce and alcoholism. Its a tough environment, it’s not a job for everyone,” Else said. “It’s not an easy job. Under staffing is and continues to be the biggest issue facing staff working at correctional facilities.”
Working as a correctional officer for 36 years, Loren Else doesn’t see a need for reform in a prison – but a need for reform in society.
“Police officers in prisons should not be looked as the ones that will rehabilitate everyone,” Else said. “We have to deal what is causing more homelessness, more poverty, drug uses, increases in crime, our children and young people need leadership, mentorship and opportunities. Locking up more people is not the answer.”
He also says prisons need to set convicts up for success after they’re released.
“Almost 80 percent of those arrested for crimes are unemployed. So what does that tell you? We’ve got to get people jobs,” Else said. “They’ve go to be employed.”
For Else, it’s a joint effort.
“Businesses, neighborhoods, families, parents, churches, schools, all working together,” Else said. “The less people we lock up the more money we can put into communities and get more reform.”
In addition to his work as a correctional officer, Else is a current Rochester Post-Bulletin columnist, historian and writer of the “The Day in History” and “Grandpa Boomer” columns.
The next round table is Nov. 19. – where the group will hear from Ian Higgins and his experiences in Afghanistan.
All round table events are held at the Autumn Ridge Church in Rochester.