Minnesota’s Legislature will face a crucial decision on the future of prison facilities in the state when it weighs whether to build a new 500-bed facility near a current prison in Rush City or take advantage of an empty 1,600-bed facility in Appleton.

Minnesota’s Legislature will face a crucial decision on the future of prison facilities in the state when it weighs whether to build a new 500-bed facility near a current prison in Rush City or take advantage of an empty 1,600-bed facility in Appleton.

 

Though it is more than five months before the state Legislature convenes, there is already a special Prison Population Task Force made up of legislators, state prison officials and law enforcement considering how to most cost-effectively meet the state’s need for more prison beds.

 

Swift County and the City of Appleton are actively putting their case before the state Legislature for using the Prairie Correctional Facility. To help it make its point with the legislators and the public, it has retained well-respected lobbying firm Goff Public of St. Paul.

 

We believe there are several key considerations the task force needs to weigh as it moves forward.

 

America’s prison population is nearing 2.4 million with more than 1.3 million of those inmates in state prisons. In Minnesota, there are about 15,700 inmates housed in jails and the population is growing despite crime going down in the state.  

 

Complicating the state’s handling of prisoners is that there are over 550 people being held in county jails who really should be housed in state prisons. This problem is only expected to get worse as the number of inmates projected to be held in county jails increases to between 900 and 1,000 over the next three years. Minnesota’s state prisons are already packed and can’t take on any additional prisoners.


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