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.
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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.”
We are loaded and have left Appleton on our way to St Paul! A great group excited to tell our story.
We just learned late this afternoon that HF 3223 (legislation to lease and operate the Appleton prison) will have a hearing in the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee Tuesday morning (3/22) starting at 10:15 AM.
We need a strong showing of our supporters for this hearing. To do this we are taking a charter bus to St. Paul. The schedule is that the bus will leave Appleton at 6:00 AM with stops in Montevideo at 6:30 AM and Mel's 7-71 at 7:05 AM for a 9:30 AM arrival in St Paul. We should leave St. Paul at approximately 12:00 Noon and will return to Montevideo around 2:30 PM and Appleton around 3:00 PM. Lunch will be provided on the bus courtesy of Subway of Appleton and there is no charge for the trip.
If you are interested in joining us on the bus trip please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Appleton City Office at (320) 289-1363.
Bus Pickup Locations
Pick up in Appleton at 6:00 AM will be at the Appleton City Office at 323 W Schlieman Ave. Parking is available on the west side of the City Offices. The bus will pick up on Schlieman Ave between Musterman St and Nelson St.
Pick up in Montevideo at 6:30 AM will be at the Chippewa County Courthouse at 629 N 11th St. Please park in the parking lot on the east side of the courthouse on the far east side of the parking lot away from the courthouse. The bus will pick up on the south side of the parking lot.
NEW PICKUP LOCATION. We will be picking up at Mel's 7-71 at 7:05 AM just east of Prinsburg at 19498 1st St S, Blomkest, MN 56216.
Plans are being made to visit the State Capitol when HF 3223 receives a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee. This is an opportunity for you to meet with legislators and show your support for the Appleton Option. The exact date is still being determined, but it will be within the next two weeks. Stay tuned for an announcement!
If you are interested in joining us on the trip please contact the Appleton City Office at 320-289-1363 or email@example.com.
Members of the Hutchinson City Council voted unanimously to take the following actions at their March 8 meeting.
APPLETON PRISON: Approve a resolution of support for a plan to have the state lease the privately owned, 1,600-bed prison in Appleton that has been closed for several years instead of building additional space at existing state prisons.
Milaca, Minn. – Andrea Gunderson spends most days lying in her bunk. On occasion, by taking her multiple medications, she sleeps up to 20 straight hours just to pass the time.
“We’re all going crazy in here,” she said in an interview at Mille Lacs County jail, her home for the next six months.
Appleton, MN - Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Kurt Daudt toured the Appleton prison on Thursday (3/3/2016) and was impressed with the facility’s overall condition. Speaker Daudt commented during his visit that he "does not support a single dollar for a single brick of new prison space in the state until this facility is reopened."
Photo left to right: Tom Kessler, Speaker Kurt Daudt, Kelly Durham, Rep. Tim Miller.
Photo left to right: Mike Pogge-Weaver, Swift County Administrator; Swift County Commissioner Gary Hendrickx; Roman Fidler, City of Appleton Clerk/Treasurer; Rep Tim Miller; and Speaker Kurt Daudt.
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota has the fifth fastest growing prison population in the country, according to data from the Department of Corrections. This overcrowding has lawmakers like Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, pushing for change.
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Questions were plentiful throughout the duration of the Prison Population Task Force that began last fall. Answers not so much.
That continued at the group’s final meeting Wednesday.
Minnesota lawmakers unveiled proposals to address prison overcrowding Wednesday, ranging from overhauling drug sentencing to creating more space for inmates by reopening a private prison.
The informal recommendations came from a task force convened in response to a sharp rise in the state's prison population over the past 15 years.
A legislative tug-of-war is forming over forthcoming reductions to prison sentences for some major drug offenders, as a top Senate Democrat announced plans Wednesday to expand the changes that some Republicans have vowed to block.
Minnesota's Sentencing Guidelines Commission slashed proposed sentences for most first- and second-degree drug possession convictions in an effort to move more in line with the rest of the nation and ease prison overcrowding.