Commissioner Roy Honored As Nation's Top Director of Corrections

Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) Commissioner Tom Roy was recently named the 2016 Outstanding Director of Corrections from the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) when he received the Michael Francke Award.

The ASCA is a national organization representing the directors of corrections for 50 states, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and five large urban jail systems. Members also include the administrator of corrections in Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands.

Commissioner Roy’s correctional career spans over 40 years, from his early days as a pre-trial officer to becoming the director of Arrowhead Regional Corrections in Northern Minnesota before being first appointed as commissioner of the DOC in January 2011 and reappointed in January 2015.

He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he received a B.A. in Political Science. In addition to his work as a corrections administrator, he has had involvement in numerous state and national initiatives and work groups, including the American Probation and Parole Association as a regional representative, and where he also served on the Executive Board from 2007-2009. He currently is the chair of the Minnesota Interstate Compact Advisory Council, which oversees the movement of convicted offenders to and from Minnesota.

In announcing the award, ASCA noted: “Since his appointment as director, Commissioner Roy has focused on reducing recidivism; improving outcomes for offenders; and improving safety for both staff and the public by staying ahead of the curve of correctional practices focusing on research and evidence-based practices. He is an ethical and compassionate leader who believes deeply in humanity, possessing a profound sense of integrity and carries the weight of his work with intense sincerity. He is known to make decisions based upon a strong belief of what is right and not what is popular or easy.”

Based on Commissioner Roy’s commitment to provide individuals an opportunity to be better prepared to return to their community, he has established initiatives like Circles of Lifers Utilizing Minnesotans for Support (COLUMNS). COLUMNS is a circle of support, pro-social, community-based volunteer program helping life-sentenced offenders transition into the community. In 2015, Commissioner Roy was recognized for his work with the lifer population receiving the Equal Justice Award from the Council on Crime and Justice, recognizing outstanding contributions in the fields of advocacy, research, and service.

Education and post-secondary education is an area Commissioner Roy strongly supports, with Minnesota leading the nation among all state departments of corrections in GED pass rates.

Commissioner Roy led the state’s criminal justice organizations and the legislature by participating on the Minnesota Legislature’s Prison Population Task Force, which reviewed solutions to reduce recidivism, lower population and improve programming, reforming the department’s revocation and hearing process, and empowering community corrections agencies to work with men and women to divert them from coming to prison.

Commissioner Roy was also a strong advocate for drug sentencing reform that will lower the department’s population by over 500 within the next five years; and he was instrumental when in 2015, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission (MSGC) voted to change drug sentencing by adopting new sentencing guidelines for drug offenses and recommending other changes to drug laws.

Under Commissioner Roy’s leadership, the Minnesota Statewide Initiative to Reduce Recidivism (MNSIRR) was launched. It is a collaboration spanning state and county systems, community service providers, and other stakeholders. The MNSIRR focus is on those offenders most likely to reoffend, identifying and targeting areas where crime and recidivism rates are highest and utilizing programs proven to work, and ensuring services are well-delivered; and under Commissioner Roy’s leadership has been awarded a one million dollar grant for implementation.

Commissioner Roy has implemented Transition from Prison to Community (TPC), which strongly supports the DOC’s mission to reduce recidivism by promoting offender change through proven strategies during safe and secure incarceration and effective community supervision.

Commissioner Roy is also a member on the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health. Under his leadership, Minnesota was the first corrections system to adopt the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) systemwide. The CIT strengthens correctional officer’s abilities to recognize symptoms of mental illness, de-escalate and often prevent mental health crises, and connect those incarcerated to supportive resources.

Through Commissioner Roy’s proactive, effective and progressive leadership, Minnesota maintains a strong and effective correctional system.

ASCA’s major goals are to influence and shape correctional policy, identify and serve as a clearinghouse of proven correctional practices, standards, and performance measures to ensure the furtherance of successful state-of-the-art activities; and to support its membership through a regimen of training and professional development programs.

Established in 1992, the Michael Francke Award recognizes an outstanding ASCA member’s dedication to corrections. The award celebrates Michael Francke’s career of exceptional accomplishments and contributions to the corrections profession and his support of ASCA. On Jan. 17, 1989, Michael Francke, then director of the Oregon DOC, was murdered as he left his office in Salem. In the summer of 1991, a former Oregon inmate was convicted of his murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The Minnesota DOC congratulates Commissioner Roy on receiving this prestigious honor.