Hello from St. Paul,
Following a recent meeting by Minnesota's Prison Population Task Force, I am sensing a positive momentum shift for the future of the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton.
The task force is charged with finding solutions to Minnesota’s prison overpopulation problem, and the common sense answer lies in western Minnesota.
The Appleton facility is not only available but it's also been upgraded and it's affordable, and a re-opening would be a boon to our local economy.
To address the overpopulation issue, Minnesota's correction commissioner has suggested spending $142 million to expand prison facilities at Rush City and Lino Lakes. Up to 600 prisoners could be accommodated with this expansion.
This is a senseless waste of state funds as the Appleton facility is already built and has prison space for 1,600 inmates.
Appleton Mayor Chadwick Syltie and Swift County Commissioner Gary Hendrickx made a strong presentation to the task force, noting that the State of Minnesota would lease the prison and the Minnesota Department of Corrections would staff and operate it with union workers.
After hearing the proposal, a number of task force members stated that they wanted to continue pursuing whether the Prairie Correctional Facility could be a logical answer to Minnesota's prison population woes.
The mayor and commissioner did a fantastic job and I'm very thankful for their efforts. It's been noted that Swift County has some of the highest unemployment rates in the state, and re-opening the Appleton prison would create a significant number of jobs in our region.
Moving forward, I will continue working with House leadership and task force members in hopes of convincing them that the most efficient and cost-effective way to address prison overcrowding is to make use of the Prairie Correctional Facility.
In other news, I had a nice visit with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler the other day at Tillie's Restaurant in Granite Falls. We talked about the University's $250 million bonding request for the 2016 legislative session, as well as a recent report stating that the University has been purchasing fetal organs for research purposes.
Have a good weekend,