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History of the Minnesota Department of Corrections
 

1985
For the first time, sex offenders outnumbered all other categories of inmates in the state correctional system representing 18.5 percent or 430 adult inmates. Programs for sex offenders expanded in the department.

The department sponsored the first National Workshop on Women Offenders. Collection of a surcharge on wages earned by inmates began and was used for crime victim programs.

1986
The new, state-of-the-art MCF-Shakopee opened across the street from the old institution which was later razed.

Minnesota ’s Sentencing to Service (STS) program was established. STS puts locally sentenced, non-dangerous offenders to work on community improvement projects.

1988
The department’s first affirmative action officer was appointed and the first affirmative action committee formed.

A minimum-security unit opened on the grounds of the Moose Lake Regional Treatment Center. Eventually, the entire treatment center was converted to a medium-security prison. From 1990 to 1994, the facility also housed adult female inmates.

1989
Legislation was approved authorizing the corrections commissioner to convert part of the Faribault Regional Treatment Center to a medium-security prison.

The legislature began its annual passage of crime bills, substantially increasing criminal penalties. Eventually, sentencing guidelines were doubled for all crimes in the higher severity levels, time was increased from 17 to 30 years before parole eligibility for life sentences for first-degree murder, and life without parole was created for certain crimes.

1990
The legislature established the Intensive Supervision Program which places selected, higher-risk offenders under strict control and surveillance in the community.

1991
An Office of Diversity was created in the state corrections department.

Minnesota was selected by Financial World as the magazine’s national winner for having a cost-effective correctional system.

1992
Minnesota ’s version of the “boot camp” prison was established, replacing the camp at Willow River. The Challenge Incarceration Program is an intensive, highly structured and disciplined program for selected nondangerous drug and property offenders.

The Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, operated by a local private entity, was issued its first license by the state corrections department. In 1996, Corrections Corporation of America assumed management of the facility.


Minnesota's version of the boot camp prison opened at Willow River in 1992

1993
Controlled movement was implemented by the warden at Stillwater, restricting the number of inmates moving at one time. Other restrictions were implemented, including control of inmate movement within each cell block tier.

1994
The legislature approved $2 million for predesign of a close-security prison that later is located at Rush City.

MINNCOR, the state’s prison industry program, was formed to integrate and centralize administration and sales functions of the department’s various industry operations.

An expansion at the MCF-Shakopee was completed to address increasing populations.

1995
The first phase of a statewide effort to reduce burgeoning caseloads of probation officers was funded. The State Probation Standards Task Force documented the need to reduce caseloads as the total number on probation in Minnesota reached nearly 100,000.

The department was the first correctional agency in the nation to establish a restorative justice office with a full-time staff person. Restorative justice is a framework for the criminal justice system that emphasizes ways in which crime harms relationships in the context of community. It provides for participation by the victim, the offender, and the community in community reparation.

1996
Bonding in the amount of $89 million was approved by the legislature for construction of a new close-custody prison for adult males. It is later determined that it will be a 950-bed, level-four institution.

The MCF-Lino Lakes was expanded to a capacity of 1,000.

The MCF-St. Cloud became the admitting facility for the department for all adult male offenders.

1997
Minnesota ’s prison population, increasing at a rapid rate in recent years, reached over 5,000 inmates. Population growth is due to a combination of factors, including the effects of increased criminal penalties and court volume.

An escape attempt at Stillwater was thwarted when three inmates hiding in a garbage truck were observed by the truck’s driver.

A work program for adult offenders was established at Camp Ripley by the legislature. The program closed in 1999 due to lack of use.

A new 232-bed chemical dependency unit opened at the MCF-Lino Lakes.

Conversion of the former Moose Lake Regional Treatment Center to a medium-security prison housing over 600 inmates was completed.

The MCF-Faribault expanded its capacity to over 800 beds.

In accordance with state law, as of August 1 no inmates or staff in state correctional facilities could possess or use tobacco.

The legislature established a camp for juvenile offenders at Camp Ripley to be operated by the corrections department. It is later transferred to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.


Conversion of the Moose Lake Regional Treatment Center to the
Moose Lake correctional facilty was completed in 1997

1998
The state corrections department contracted with a private vendor for inmate health care services. The contract includes inpatient hospital care, and the department’s secure unit at Regions Hospital is closed.

A new Center for Crime Victim Services was created which combined victim services from a number of agencies including the state corrections department.

Funding was approved for a new project operated through the department’s Institution Community Work Crew program to use nonviolent inmates to build affordable housing for low-income families.

1999
The MCF-Sauk Centre was closed.

After deliberations regarding the potential operation of the new state prison at Rush City by the private sector, the legislature appropriated funds for operation of the prison by the state corrections department. The prison is scheduled to open in January 2000.

The state corrections department began a comprehensive community outreach program to increase citizen participation in corrections. A number of citizen advisory groups are formed and a series of community days and forums held.

Photographs are used with the permission of the Minnesota Historical Society.

 

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Minnesota Department of Corrections
1450 Energy Park Drive
Suite 200
St. Paul, Minnesota 55108

651-361-7200

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