Republican legislators claim the state could save millions over two years by moving inmates to Minnesota's only privately run prison.
The proposal would transfer more than 750 inmates from the state's medium-security prison in Moose Lake, to the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, where the daily incarceration costs are lower.
Representative Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake says the move would save $25 million in incarceration costs, and eliminate the need for a $90 million expansion of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in Moose Lake. Westrom said he also wants to make greater use of the Appleton prison.
"It's had lots of times where it's been struggling to get prisoners," Westrom said. "I mean they've brought them in from Wisconsin, from Washington, from Colorado, from Puerto Rico some years ago just to try to fill them up with tenants. Why not use tenants right here in Minnesota that we have a need for when we could save this kind of money is my point."
DFL Senator Tony Lourey of Kerrick said attempts to further privatize Minnesota prisons have been tried before and rejected. Lourey also says the proposed move would not save money, and end up costing jobs.