Two prisons close permanently due to budget shortfall

The Minnesota Department of Corrections have notified staff and state leaders about their plan to close the state’s two smallest prisons permanently due to the Department’s budget shortfall and the lack of a supplemental budget bill to address their deficit. The facilities are Minnesota Correctional Facility-Togo in north Minnesota and Minnesota Correctional Facility-Willow River in Moose Lake.

“The decision by the Department of Corrections to close both facilities is the unfortunate consequence of revenue shortfalls, staffing needs, and the fact that the legislature did not provide a supplemental budget this year,” said Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, the DFL lead on the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. “I believe that the Department made the only choice that they could to right-size their budget now in a way that will minimize longer-term cuts without compromising public safety. We will have more opportunities in later special sessions to provide additional funding that our correctional facilities need. Unfortunately, I’m sure this won’t be the last cost-cutting decision the Department and other departments may have to consider in the coming months as we face a state-wide budget shortfall.”

According to the DOC, they face a budget deficit of about $14 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. While these two sites operate the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP), the program will continue to operate in full while moving to other existing facilities. The CIP is an intervention that provides individuals who are good candidates for early release from prison with a combination of boot camp and intensive aftercare rehabilitation. CIP is designed to reduce recidivism and reduce the costs of incarceration.

Senator Ron Latz
Ron Latz represents District 46, which includes portions of Hennepin County in the western Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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