The estate of slain corrections officer Joseph Gomm would be the recipient of a $3 million appropriation, according to legislation introduced March 24 by Senator Karin Housley (R-Stillwater). The legislation provides the appropriation to the Commissioner of Corrections for the full payment to the estate of Gomm as compensation for his death at the Stillwater Correction Facility.

“Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm was brutally murdered in 2018 by an inmate and that could have been totally prevented,” said Sen. Housley. “Joseph Gomm mentioned to his family many times that he was worried about his safety — he knew the staffing in the MINNCOR workshop was inadequate, and so did the Department of Corrections, yet he was continuously assigned to staff the workshop, and he paid for that with his life. This bill simply seeks to provide some relief to a family that has been fighting for some sort of settlement for years — they’ve suffered the ultimate tragedy, and this is the right thing to do.”

On July 18, 2018, Gomm was assigned to work in the MINNCOR workshop at the Stillwater prison, despite MINNCOR’s knowledge of staffing shortages, according to a Housley press release. As a result, Gomm was the lone correctional officer left in the workshop when Edward Johnson bludgeoned him in the head with a hammer that was checked out from the Correction Center’s MINNCOR metal workshop. Prior to murdering Gomm, Johnson had a known history of assaults on inmates and staff, a previous murder charge, and had also been assigned to 1,700 days of solitary confinement due to behavioral issues. In addition, multiple correction officers suggested he be transferred to a facility suited for his violent behavioral issues. Officer Gomm’s murder was the first murder of an on-duty Minnesota correction officer, and as a result Edward Johnson was sentenced to life in prison.

“This devastating situation is heartbreaking for many reasons. Not only did his murderer have a previous record of multiple assaults, but he had also threatened other corrections officers, and even alluded to committing this murder before it happened,” continued Sen. Housley. This tragic event should have never happened, and Officer Gomm should have never been in danger. This money won’t bring Joseph back, but it’s the right thing to do, it will certainly aid in the restoration and it will hopefully provide the family some sense of peace.”

Senate File 449 was laid over in the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy.

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