County board updated on prison potential use

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Swift County’s two members of the Minnesota Legislature are cautiously optimistic that it will give serious consideration to using the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton rather than building a new facility in Rush City.
District 17 Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, and District 17A Rep. Tim Miller, Republican-Prinsburg, met with the Swift County Board of Commissioners at their meeting last Tuesday to discuss what 2016 may bring for rural counties.
At the top of the list of issues for Swift County is the possible reopening of the prison in Appleton.
It is estimated that the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) has about 550 state prisoners in county jails throughout the state that it believes should be housed in state-run facilities. Further, it is projected that in less than three years there could be 900 to 1,000 inmates in facilities outside their system, County Administrator Mike Pogge-Weaver told the board of commissioners last month.
To house this expanding prison population, the DOC is asking the Minnesota Legislature to approve $85 to $100 million in bonding in 2016 to expand its facility at Rush City by 500 beds, the board was told. Another bonding bill could be requested in 2018 or 2020 for a second 500-bed expansion.
Rather than build a new prison facility, Swift County and the City of Appleton are saying it makes a lot more sense to reopen the Prairie Correctional Facility.

Photo:  Appleton’s Prairie Correctional Facility has sat empty since February 2010. It can house 1,600 prisoners.

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