DFL Legislators Say ‘Core Function’ of Government Is to Protect Citizens from Criminals in Push to End Private Prisons

Minnesota House and Senate Democrats unveiled a set of companion bills to ban private prisons in the state at a press conference Tuesday.

The legislation comes in response to talks of reopening Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minnesota, which is owned by CoreCivic and has been closed since 2010.

House File (HF) 1237 and Senate File (SF) 1678 would prohibit “the state and counties from contracting with private prisons.”

“After July 1, 2019, the commissioner shall not allow inmates to be housed in facilities that are not owned and operated by the state, a local unit of government, or a group of local units of government,” the bill states. “The commissioner may not contract with privately owned and operated prisons for the care, custody, and rehabilitation of offenders committed to the custody of the commissioner.”

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D-Golden Valley) and Sen. Ron Latz (D-St. Louis Park) called a press conference with members of the American Federation of State, Council, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council Five to discuss their bills.

“Our criminal justice system is a core responsibility of government. Minnesotans deserve strong public safety, and private prisons deliver worse outcomes for more money and are completely opposite of what a strong public safety system should be,” Winkler said.

Latz argued that private prisons are “less safe for correctional officers as well as for inmates,” and don’t “deliver the kind of services that a correctional system should.”

“When profits are the number one goal of operating prisons, corners get cut, and it’s easy to cut corners in the correctional system if that’s your motivation. We’ve seen the effect of that around the country in other states where they’ve had private prisons,” he added.

Latz concluded by saying he agrees with Winkler in that “there is nothing more quintessential as a core function of government than not only convicting those who commit crimes but then imprisoning them, taking care of them, watching them, protecting the public from them, and preparing them for when they go back into the community.”

AFSCME Council Five Associate Director Tim Henderson said it’s “time to end the concept that anybody should profit off of incarcerating human beings.”

“It’s deplorable, it’s despicable. CoreCivic is a company that we never want to partner with and we never want them in the state of Minnesota,” he said.

In the House, the bill was referred to the Corrections Division and received its first hearing Tuesday morning, while the Senate version was referred Monday to the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ron Latz” by Ron Latz. Photo “Ryan Winkler” by Ryan Winkler. Background Photo “Minnesota Capitol Chambers” by Chris Gaukel. CC BY-SA 2.0.







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