Minnesota Department of Corrections announces plan to close 2 prisons

It's the result of a "substantial budget crisis."
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The Minnesota Department of Corrections says it's notified staff and state leaders about plans to close two state prisons thanks to an ongoing budget crisis.

The proposal to close its two smallest facilities – MCF-Togo in northern Minnesota and MCF-Willow River in Moose Lake – comes after the most recent Special Sessions of the Minnesota Legislature resulted in no decision being made on the DOC's "supplemental budget request."

Togo and Willow River are minimum security bootcamps that are part of the state's Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP), with Togo housing 90 male inmates and Willow River 180.

The department says it's facing a budget shortfall of $14 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

The department says that its CIP program would continue to operate in the event of the Togo and Willow River closures, but at other facilities.

The closures would affect 48 full-time workers at Togo, and 51 at Willow River, with "most" of the positions set to be eliminated.

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The DOC says it will also make a series of job cuts in the Department of Corrections Commissioner's office and administrative services.

"We take these steps out of a commitment to deliver critically needed services that offer opportunity for transformation and a safer Minnesota,” said DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell.

"While the actions we announced today are immensely difficult, Minnesotans rightly expect that we be responsible stewards of public resources as we fulfill the agency’s mission." 

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