Senate passes Senator Osmek’s legislation helping prisoners reintegrate after release

On Wednesday, Senator David Osmek’s (R-Mound) prisoner reintegration legislation passed with a unanimous vote on the Senate floor. Senate File 519 requires the Department of Public Safety’s to provide critical information and services to help recently released inmates with their reintegration, decrease recidivism, and ultimately save Minnesota taxpayers money.   

“We want to decrease our recidivism rate, and we want to ensure that after spending time in prison, our inmates learn how to turn the corner in their lives, reintegrate into their communities, and pay off their social debt,” Osmek said.    

“When inmates are released from prison, a lot of the success depends on their own drive to seek out services and programs that will allow them to continue their rehabilitation process,” Osmek continued. “The legislation passed today reexamines Minnesota’s current exit process and ensures that the Department of Corrections is supplying the basic information and support to ensure former inmates are restarting on the right foot.”

The states the Department of Corrections must provide inmates: 

(1) A copy of the inmate’s unofficial criminal history compiled by the department and marked as unofficial  

(2) information on how to obtain the inmate’s full official criminal history from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension  

(3) general information describing the laws and processes for obtaining an expungement of the inmate’s criminal record  

(4) general information on the inmate’s right to vote  

(5) current information on local career workforce centers in the county in which the inmate will reside and, upon the inmate’s request, other counties  

(6) a record of the programs that the inmate completed while in prison  

(7) an accounting of any court-ordered payments, fines, and fees owed by the inmate upon release  

(8) Information on how to obtain a Social Security card  

(9) a medical discharge summary  

(10) information on how to obtain a complete copy of the inmate’s medical record  

(11) general information on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits 

Additionally, the legislation requires that the Department of Corrections offer the inmate assistance to apply for medical assistance or MinnesotaCare and provide a one-month supply of non-narcotic medications, if necessary, to inmates upon release. Lastly, the bill requires the Commissioner to develop and implement a homelessness mitigation plan for individuals released from prison, to decrease another problem commonly faced by former inmates.