Hennepin County surveys inmates on ‘quality of life,’ refers to them as ‘residents’

The survey, sent to all incarcerated inmates in May, asked for feedback on the correctional facility's current conditions, living standards, quality of care, programs, and services.

The Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility in Plymouth. (Google)

An internal survey given to inmates at the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility refers to them as “residents.”

The survey, sent to all incarcerated inmates in May, asked for feedback on the correctional facility’s current conditions, living standards, quality of care, programs, and services.

“This survey gives you an opportunity to have your say about your experience and what could be done to make things better at this facility. Your answers will be used to understand current living conditions and to make recommendations for making changes to this facility,” it says.

One section on quality of life in particular asks inmates how much they agree or disagree on whether “relationships between staff and residents in this facility are good,” whether they “personally get on well with the officers in [their] cell section/block,” and whether they are treated “as a person of value.”

Inmates are also asked for their thoughts on the following statements:

  • My experience of imprisonment in this particular facility has been stressful.
  • If you do something wrong in this facility, staff only use punishments. They do not try other options first.
  • My experience in this facility is painful.
  • Decisions in this facility are dominated by concerns about security.
  • This is a decent facility.

Speaking to Alpha News, a source described that section of the survey as indicative of the facility becoming “something of a coddling organization rather than a correctional institute.”

The source also said some of the facility’s correctional officers are “fuming over the fact that management has adopted this uber indulgence policy,” specifying that many inmates who get written up for misbehaving or violating the rules aren’t actually punished.

Scott Wasserman, communications manager for the Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation, told Alpha News the survey results are meant to help the county “develop a master plan to reimagine the [Adult Corrections Facility] in the next 20 years.”

“The results will help drive improvements to the facility itself and how those changes impact the services we are able to deliver to those serving time,” he said. “The master plan will be developed through research on best practices, feedback gathered from residents, staff, justice and community partners.”

He said the county has hired DLR Group to conduct this work.

As for why the facility refers to inmates as “residents,” Wasserman said it’s done “out of respect and dignity” for the incarcerated.

“We are committed to achieving positive outcomes and improving the overall well-being of our residents to help them find a better path forward when they leave the ACF,” he added.