The Minnesota Department of Human Services confirms it is cutting 55 positions at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter to help resolve an $11 million budget shortfall.
Almost 200 sex offenders are on the campus, and another 327 mentally ill patients are treated in the hospital.
News of the cuts initially worried some local lawmakers, because of the hospital's proximity to the Gustavus Adolphus College campus.
Wes Kooistra, deputy commissioner for chemical and mental health, says the cuts come largely from a closed wing of the hospital.
"The changes that we're making in this program really represent bringing greater efficiency to the operation," he said. "There is absolutely nothing in these changes that compromises security or treatment."
But the union that represents the affected employees says the layoffs are imprudent.
"Most of these folks would be in prison if they weren't mentally ill," noted AFSCME union director Eliot Seide. "So reducing the number of security personnel in this setting puts both those employees at risk and the community at risk."
Seide said the union was not consulted about the cuts. Twenty administrative positions from the department's central office will be cut, as will 16 jobs from Anoka Regional Treatment Center.