“Legislators have ideas on may different proposed changes, and they rely on us to tell them how that idea would impact DOC,” Steelhammer said. “It’s built on credibility because they trust us to provide them with honest and accurate information.”
The Department also invites legislators and their aides to tour prisons and community corrections offices to educate them about issues that are frequently discussed during legislative hearings. Reception, health services, food services, sustainability projects and offender programs are frequently the focus of legislative tours.
“If our Legislature understand our operations and have accurate information,” said Mullins. “they can make the best decisions for public safety
During the session, the Department monitors legislative activity, budget discussions and the bills that could impact the agency if they become a law. Sometimes legislators will request that DOC provide subject matter experts to testify during hearings and work sessions. After the session the Department immediately begins implementing new laws.
“The work is very cyclical,” said Steelhammer. “Even when session is over we answer questions from legislators’ constituents which can end up as language in a future bill. The process never truly ends.”