Citing financial woes The Minnesota Department of Corrections (MNDOC) will be closing two prisons.
Prisoners from the Togo and Willow River prisons will be transferred to other facilities and 100 employees will be laid off as a result of the move. These cuts come only a few weeks after 48 Department of Corrections Employees were let go in response to budget concerns resulting from the coronavirus.
The cuts are concerning in a state where unemployment is at nearly 9%. The Department of Corrections employs around 4,300 permanent employees and is the state’s third-largest employer.
The MNDOC appealed to state lawmakers, who were unable to pass a supplemental budget proposal in time to save the facilities. The multi-year bonding bill was the third proposal of it’s kind to fail since May, as legislators have struggled to compromise. The bill would have included $13,000,000 in supplemental funds for the MNDOC as well as money for numerous construction and public works programs.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) called attempts by the legislature to pass the bill a “dog and pony show” alleging his caucus had been excluded from negotiations on the subject.
Daudt went on to say, “Instead of restoring the Legislature’s role as a co-equal branch and crafting a bonding bill that can earn support from House Republicans, Democrats continue to push a bill that includes several poison pills that they know are non-starters for our caucus.”
The failure of the bill is another blow to the state’s law enforcement and corrections programs as the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to defund the city’s police department. The Minneapolis Police Department recently published a “robbery prevention tips” guide urging citizens to “Be prepared to give up your cell phone,” and “Do as they say” should you be accosted.
The guidance comes as crime continues to soar in the city. Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct Police department reported over 100 robberies and 20 carjackings in July alone.