Governor Tim Walz told hundreds of cheering AFSCME state employee union members at a State Capitol rally Tuesday afternoon, “As long as I have the privilege of occupying this office, there will never be a private prison in Minnesota!” Over the years proposals have been unsuccessfully floated to revive the state’s only private prison — Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton — which now stands dormant. Some bills proposed Minnesota lease or buy the prison and staff it with state employee union members. A Walz spokesperson says the governor opposes either leasing or buying because his goal is to reduce Minnesota’s prison population. Backers of a re-opened prison say it would be a needed boost to the Appleton area economy.
House Democratic Majority Leader Ryan Winkler introduced a bill earlier this year that would ban private prisons from doing business in Minnesota. He argues Minnesota prisons should not be run by corporations that put profits ahead of public safety.