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Governor Walz Announces Hiring of Mark Haase as Department of Corrections Ombudsperson

12/17/2019 12:29:26 PM

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz announced today the hiring of Mark Haase as the Department of Corrections Ombudsperson. As Ombudsperson, Haase will oversee an office and staff to field and investigate complaints regarding Department of Corrections facilities and to provide policy recommendations to the Department of Corrections Commissioner.

“It is my honor to appoint Mark Haase as the Department of Corrections Ombudsperson,” said Governor Tim Walz. “In order to build a fair and equitable criminal justice system, we must ensure that everyone – those who work in the corrections system, and incarcerated individuals and their families – can be heard. By building more accountability and transparency into our corrections system through this office, we help to ensure better outcomes for all those within it. Ninety-five percent of those who are incarcerated will return to our communities and Minnesotans are safer when the system works better to rehabilitate them. Mark has dedicated his career to fighting for fair outcomes in our justice system, and I look forward to seeing his expertise in action in this role.”

“Mark knows this work and I’m excited to see him in this role,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Mark has dedicated his life to finding places in the criminal justice system where people might sometimes fall through the cracks and he lifts them up and makes sure their voices are heard. I look forward to his leadership as ombudsperson.”

“I’m honored and excited to be selected to lead this office where we will work to ensure Minnesota is using the best possible correctional policies and practices,” said Mark Haase. “By independently investigating and reporting on the concerns and complaints of inmates and their families, and staff, the Ombudsperson’s Office will help to resolve specific problems, and also provide Minnesotans with a better understanding of our corrections system. This should result in safer correctional facilities, and more opportunities for inmates to be prepared to help create safer and stronger communities upon their release.”

About Mark Haase

Mark Haase is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Justice Research Center, a non-profit committed to research-based criminal justice system reform. Prior to this, he served as the Government Relations Director at Minnesota IT Services and managed his own government relations practice Mark A. Haase, Attorney at Law. He was also the founding co-chair of the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition. Haase received his B.A. from the University of Minnesota and his J.D. from the University of St. Thomas School of Law and is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Reserve.

About the Department of Corrections Ombudsperson

The Department of Corrections Ombudsperson oversees the Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsperson, which is established as a neutral arbiter to field and investigate complaints regarding state prisons and county jails. The Ombudsperson will also provide policy recommendations to the Department of Corrections Commissioner. The DOC Ombudsman was initially established in 1972 by Governor Wendell Anderson in Executive Order 14 as an independent agency in the executive branch, then by the legislature as an independent agency in 1973. The office was eliminated by the legislature in 2003. The office was reinstated by a bill passed during the 2019 legislative session.

About the Hiring Process

To ensure consideration of exceptional candidates for this important position, the Governor and Lt. Governor convened a selection panel comprised of community leaders, including individuals and representatives from the following organizations:

  • AFSCME
  • ACLU
  • NAMI
  • Second Chance Coalition
  • Task Force on Justice Involved Women and Girls
  • MN Sheriffs’ Association
  • Office of Justice Programs Crime Victims Justice Unit
  • MACCAC (MN Assoc of Community Correction Act Counties)
  • Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities
  • T Williams and John Poupart, former DOC Ombudsmen

The panel advanced five finalists.

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