This legislative session has seen the Shakopee Prison fence issue come back up again – as it should. The MN Legislature is discussing a bonding bill and the Governor has included a fence around the Shakopee prison as part of his proposed package.
Senator Pratt is also authoring a bill moving through the legislature that would fund a fence and I thank him for his hard work on the subject.
The past 12 months have seen multiple incidents occur putting the community, Correctional staff and the prisoners in danger. Securing the facility with a fence is – and has for some time – necessary for our security.
We need a fence to keep the offenders inside. There are currently 73 incarcerated for homicide convictions, 48 for assaults, 6 arsonists and an extraordinary 11 criminals who have escaped from custody are being kept in a fenceless prison.
This winter, a man was found bleeding with a head wound in the center courtyard of the facility. He was disoriented and apprehended by the security staff and turned over to the Shakopee police. He was new to the area and said he didn’t realize the facility was a prison – which is an easy mistake.
Later that night, he was back on grounds. Think about what an issue that is. No one knew if he was there to harm someone, leave behind weapons, drugs, money, etc. or if he was simply lost again. Maybe he was just testing them the first time to see what would happen.
He says he was looking for his sunglasses and cell phone and the Shakopee Police took him away. Glasses were found but the cell phone was not. No one knows where that cell phone is or who has it.
Last summer, a group of middle school kids came onto the grounds and knocked on the doors asking if they could play baseball on their field. This prison houses 25 offenders in prison for criminal sexual misconduct or kidnapping.
Talking about these items is very tricky and we must walk a fine line. I do not want to scare people but I believe it is scary situation. Without talking about what does and could very easily happen, everyone assumes there is no reason to be concerned. We must be open about these concerns and urge our legislature to support building a fence at the Shakopee Corrections Facility.
Without a fence, the prison is an uncontrolled environment. The staff is unable to know what or who is going in or out which makes it very difficult to protect the prisoners and the public.
Below is what I wrote last year that has more information about the particulars of the facility.
Please use the comments section below for discussion.
Prison fence issue returns for Shakopee – Shakopee Valley News
What do you think? Please comment below – I need your input!
Should a prison have a fence
Recently, I toured the Shakopee Correctional Facility and was incredibly impressed with the Warden, Tracy Beltz, and realized I live just down the hill from there and had no idea what it was like. The campus was very nice and well kept. I wasn’t aware of a couple of things:
- There are between 550 and 600 prisoners at the facility ranging from Level 1 to Level 5 offenders
- There is a central dining facility so the majority of the prisoners walk outside from their building to the dining facility for each meal
- Any time someone mentions or is heard talking about escape, the prisoner is transferred out of state at a large cost because there is no fence
The design for the fence is really nice. Most people think of chain link and razor wire with guard towers for a prison fence. That is not the case here. The fence is planned for 12′ tall with brick piers and wrought iron fencing. It is modeled after a fence at St. Kate’s in St Paul.
The facility is holding an open house January 12 from 1 to 2 pm.
Bottom line is the Dept of Corrections feels they need it as an added line of security between the prisoners and the community as well as to protect the prisoners from people not in prison wanting to do them harm.
I have talked with many folks who live near and across the street. They aren’t happy with having a fence built, but I think as long as it looks good and fits with the community, it should be built.