Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday defended the Minnesota Department of Corrections’ newly-adopted policy that forbids news cameras during interviews with prison inmates.
“I have an excellent Commissioner of Corrections, and if he makes that kind of operating decision I support him,” Dayton told reporters during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “If he deems it necessary to support for the security of inmates and the personnel that are in those prisons, then I support that.”
Dayton’s comments come days after the Star Tribune’s James Eli Shiffer questioned the policy adopted in February, which now includes news cameras as contraband, lumping them with pornography, lighters, knives and other dangerous objects. A DOC spokeswoman said the policy would prevent victims from being traumatized by seeing an offender’s face in the media, and make it easier for inmates to get jobs once they are released from prison.
Before the policy, inmates could consent to still and video photography by various media outlets, including in the Star Tribune’s “Young and Armed” series, about juvenile gun violence, and this KARE11 story about pregnant prison inmates finding support while giving birth. The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists decried the DOC’s new measure.
A Dayton spokesman said the governor would likely answer more questions about the policy Wednesday alongside DOC Commissioner Tom Roy, but in the meantime, said that he stood behind both Roy and the new policy.
“I don’t require permission to approve everything that comes in,” he said. “…I’m not going to micromanage the agencies. As long as they make the right decisions I’ll support them all the way.”