ST. PAUL – State Representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) said he was extremely disappointed in Governor Dayton's recent statements suggesting that he does not want to re-open the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton in order to help solve Minnesota's overcrowded prison problem.
"Considering re-opening the Appleton facility has wide bipartisan support in the Legislature and would provide 200 to 600 good paying union jobs to a county that ranks second in the state in unemployment, I'm actually somewhat shocked Governor Dayton appears to be dismissing this common sense approach to create needed prison space," Miller said.
Miller noted that the Appleton prison is already built and has space for 1,600 inmates, which would meet Minnesota's immediate and future needs.
According to the proposal, the State of Minnesota would lease the Prairie Correctional Facility and the Minnesota Department of Corrections would staff and operate it with union workers. Minnesota's correction commissioner had previously suggested spending $142 million to expand prison facilities at Rush City and Lino Lakes, which would accommodate up to 600 prisoners.
On January 15, Governor Dayton recommended spending $5 million in bonding proceeds to add 60 new prison bets to the Lino Lakes facility. Miller said it is discouraging that it appears both Governor Dayton and public unions are disregarding the Appleton prison, even though many legislators feel this is the logical answer to Minnesota's prison issues.
"Clearly we have more work to do at the Capitol when it comes to explaining the overwhelming need to reopen the Prairie Correctional Facility," Miller said. "The prison beds are there. Hundreds of good paying union jobs are there. The local workforce is there. It's senseless to spend more money to build new or expand current facilities when the Appleton facility is built and hundreds of Swift County residents are ready to go to work."