Republicans who want the state to start using a privately owned prison in western Minnesota pitched it Tuesday morning as a common-sense solution for overcrowding in state-owned correctional facilities. Read more...
Republican legislators say they will resurrect an effort to reopen and run a privately owned 1,600-bed prison in Swift County as a way to ease chronic overcrowding in Minnesota’s 10 state prisons.
APPLETON—Legislation to reopen the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton was met by angry protesters at its most important hearing, amendments from the floor to kill it, and public opposition from the state's employees union.
Over the weekend, state legislators met to negotiate a final agreement on a supplemental budget bill for the 2016 session. That agreement was passed by the House and Senate late last night, and unfortunately it does not include our proposal for the State of Minnesota to move forward with a purchase of the Prairie Correctional Facility.
While some drug sentencing reform was passed into law this session, it will not be enough to alleviate our state’s persistent prison overcrowding problem. Minnesota’s prison population will likely continue to grow. We are grateful to Representative Tim Miller and Senator Lyle Koenen for being the chief authors and tireless advocates of the Appleton Option, and for helping to give our community a voice in this critical discussion. We made great progress this legislative session and we will continue to urge lawmakers to address this problem head-on, invest in our community, and move forward with a lease or purchase of the Prairie Correctional Facility.
Our work is not over. Please continue to stay involved and stay tuned for more updates.
With less than a week to go until the 2016 legislative session adjourns, a proposal for the state to purchase the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton remains alive.
This is a crucial moment: As a supporter of the Appleton Option, we need your help!
Minnesota’s prison overcrowding crisis won’t be solved on its own. Even with well-intentioned efforts to address overcrowding with drug sentencing reforms, the Department of Corrections still needs more beds to provide adequate inmate rehabilitation. The proposed sentencing reforms will not result in sizable prison bed savings until 2028 – and meanwhile, our state’s prison population will continue to grow and the overcrowding will only get worse.
The legislators listed below are members of a conference committee that will decide whether or not the Appleton prison – and hundreds of good union jobs for families in our communities – will move forward this year.
Please email or call these legislators today! Be sure to remind them that the numbers don’t add up, and Minnesota needs more prison beds to alleviate overcrowding and safely house and rehabilitate inmates.
APPLETON — A proposal that would reopen the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton took its biggest step forward to date.
The Minnesota House of Representatives approved an omnibus bill early Friday morning that includes an amendment by Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, to reopen the 1,600-bed prison. The amendment requires the state to contract to operate and purchase or lease to own the privately owned Prairie Correctional Facility.
Senator Lyle Koenen has introduced SF 3594 a bill to have the Commissioner of Correction to negotiation a contract to purchase or lease to buy the Appleton Prison. This bill follows a similar track of what is being undertook in the House. You can see the full bill here.
The Minnesota House last night passed a government funding bill that includes language calling on the state to lease Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton to alleviate prison overcrowding. The bill's sponsor, Representative Tim Miller of Prinsburg, says even though the state is working on reducing drug sentences to cut down on prison overcrowding, that, in itself, won't be enough...
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ST. PAUL (MNN) - The state would lease the currently-closed private prison in Appleton and re-open it using state employees, under a measure headed for a vote on the Minnesota House floor.
The House Ways and Means Committee approves and sends to the full house a bill to purchase or lease to buy the Appleton Prison
The House Ways and Means Committee just approved and sent to the full House of Representatives House File 3467. As part of approving the bill the committee amended the bill to have the Commissioner of Correction to negotiation a contract to purchase or lease to buy the Appleton Prison. Stay tuned for more on this breaking update.
The Minnesota House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee will take up an amendment that the Commissioner of Corrections shall attempt to complete negotiations by January 1, 2017, of a contract to operate and purchase or lease with an option to buy the Appleton Prison. The meeting starts at 1:30.
You can view the amendment here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/docs/d0d779f4-2253-480f-8c4d-16d3eea23213.pdf.
The meeting will stream live on House TV 1: http://www.house.mn/htv/schedule.asp.
Continue to contact the Governor and your legislators. Information on how to contact them can be found here: http://www.appletonoption.org/call-to-action.html
Under a proposal in the Legislature, the private Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minn., closed since 2010, would be reopened as a state-run facility in order to help alleviate overcrowding.
Minnesota state prisons are full to overflowing, the result of longer, tougher sentencing and a reluctance by legislators to bear the costs of more inmates who spend more years incarcerated at taxpayer expense.
The outlook is bleak for a proposal to reopen Prairie Correctional Facility, a private prison in Swift County.
Over the past month, a protest temporarily shut down a legislative hearing on the bill, the state’s top prison commissioner called it “the antithesis of America” and Gov. Mark Dayton vowed to veto if it passed. Last Friday, the bill missed a critical deadline in the Senate, making even sponsor Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, cautiously pessimistic it will succeed this year.
“I could be wrong,” added Koenen. “Things change fast here.”
In an April 7 commentary regarding the prison in Appleton, Minn. (“Reopen prison in Appleton, and Minnesotans will lose”) Dan McGrath of TakeAction Minnesota muddied the waters of what should be a clear decision for the Legislature.
We have too many inmates in our county jails, where they are given few if any opportunities for the rehabilitation or treatment that can be found in our state prisons. It’s projected that we will have even more inmates in the future, and we just don’t have room.
As a former employee of Prairie Correctional Facility, which closed its doors in 2010, I believe the prison facility has a vital solution to overcrowding in the state’s prison system, but can give a solution to the mentally ill as well.
State Senator Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, has co-authored a bipartisan bill that would re-open the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton.
Currently, Minnesota faces a prison overcrowding issue, placing an increasing burden on the state’s correctional system, Westrom noted.
Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, talks with Shannon Loehrke about his proposal to open Appleton prison to ease the shortage of prison beds in Minnesota.
By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News
Minnesota faces a serious prison overcrowding problem. No one argues that point. It is how that problem should be addressed that is at the root of deep emotional stands on the issue. There are three basic solutions under discussion: sentencing reform, creating more prison beds, or the combination of the two. Tangled within those three solutions are passionate feelings on sentencing fairness, racial inequity in sentencing, and the difference being tough on crime and compassionate to our fellow human beings who have violated the law.
Winona County just inked a more than $262,800 deal with Houston County to house Winona County prisoners. With a state-mandated downgrading of Winona County's jail coming at the end of August, Winona County will need to send more prisoners elsewhere this fall.
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Detroit Lake's jail is looking at expanding in response to the jail overcrowding. The Becker County Jail has been looking at multiple options to deal with their current inmate crowding. One option they're eyeing is adding a third floor on top of their jail.
Governor Mark Dayton says he'd veto a measure to re-open a private prison in Swift County. The Democratic governor laid out his opposition (Wednesday) to re-opening Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton to ease prison overcrowding. A House panel passed a bill to re-open PCF on Tuesday.
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In no uncertain terms, the governor said he would veto a bill with traction in the House to reopen a private prison in western Minnesota under some level of state control. Dayton said he’s not comfortable with the push to resume sending inmates to the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton — at least not yet.
“I’m told they want $100 million to buy it. Then we have to rehab it and operate it. Hugely expensive. And I certainly don’t support this private corporation being authorized or leasing the facility to them or paying to have them to come back and do it with all the problems they brought before,” Dayton said.
Link to the story...
A Minnesota House panel on Tuesday approved Republican-backed legislation that would reopen the privately owned prison in Appleton, Minn., under state management.
Supporters see the move as a way to create some much-needed jobs in a struggling part of rural western Minnesota.
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“Today’s hearing was an important step forward in an ongoing conversation about a complex topic,” said Swift County Commissioner Gary Hendrickx. “Legislators need to have serious conversations about the best ways to address our prison overcrowding problem — which ultimately needs to include options for additional bed capacity and sentencing reform. "
“We are urging the Governor and the legislature to keep all options on the table as they work to address these important public safety issues. Leasing or purchasing the Appleton facility would provide significant economic benefits and create good-paying union job opportunities for our region. Just as importantly, all inmates in the State of Minnesota’s care would be treated equally and have access to the rehabilitation programming they need.”