Sheriff candidate wants to raise pay for prison inmates

"I think that is actually a good idea," Witt said.

Major Dawanna Witt during a recent YouTube interview. (TrapRite/YouTube)

A Democratic candidate for Hennepin County sheriff said she thinks it’s a “good idea” to give inmates more money for their labor in prison.

Dawanna Witt, who currently serves as a major in the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, appeared on an episode of “Address It” earlier this month.

During the discussion, the host expressed his opinion that inmates don’t get paid enough for the jobs they’re assigned to do in prison, and wondered what Witt thought of the idea that they should have “a little money to come home to” upon their release.

“If they were to save up a little bit, and then when they get out, they … have a couple dollars. I think that would be a positive thing,” he said. “What would you say to that?”

“I think that is actually a good idea,” Witt replied, adding that it’s “doable” but admittedly “difficult” as well. She said priorities must lie in thoroughly vetting and correctly classifying inmates to do certain jobs, as well as ensuring the overall “safety of the facility.”

Witt is vying for Hennepin County sheriff along with candidates Jai Hanson and Joseph Banks. Sheriff Dave Hutchinson is not seeking reelection and remains on a leave of absence following a drunk driving accident scandal.

Witt has previously said that, if elected, she would maintain the decision of the sheriff’s office to not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the detention of illegal aliens. The only exception is if ICE has a warrant from a federal judge.

During a debate in early July, Witt also faced criticism from sheriff candidate Hanson over her residency in Lakeville, a Twin Cities suburb in Dakota County, not Hennepin County. Candidates for any elected county office must maintain residency “in their district for at least 30 days before the general election.”

“I do own a home in Lakeville,” Witt replied. “So kudos to me for my successes and not being a part of an environment in which I was brought up in.”


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.