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how many prisons are in minnesota

16 Jun 2023, Prisons, by

Discover the number of prisons in Minnesota and gain insight into the state’s correctional system.

how many prisons are in minnesota - Inmate Lookup

Minnesota is home to several prisons that house inmates convicted of a range of crimes. In this article, we will delve into the state’s prison system and analyze different aspects, such as the history, types, management, security, prisoner classification, the impact of overcrowding, costs, rehabilitation and education programs, re-entry services, controversies, and future plans. So strap in, and let’s unpack everything you need to know about the Minnesota prison system.

Understanding the Minnesota prison system

The Minnesota prison system is tasked with managing 10 facilities statewide, and these are responsible for the incarceration of felons from all over the state. These facilities are managed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, who are also responsible for the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders once they are released.

One of the unique features of the Minnesota prison system is its focus on restorative justice. This approach emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior, rather than simply punishing offenders. In practice, this means that inmates are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and make amends through community service, victim restitution, and other forms of restorative justice. This approach has been shown to reduce recidivism rates and improve outcomes for both offenders and their communities.

The history of prisons in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota has a long and varied history of building and operating correctional facilities. Prisons were originally established to house offenders convicted of various crimes, ranging from minor misdemeanors to more serious ones involving violence. This has led to the construction of 10 facilities with varying sizes and security levels throughout the state.

One of the most notable prisons in Minnesota is the Stillwater Correctional Facility, which was established in 1914 and is the oldest prison in the state. Over the years, the facility has undergone several renovations and expansions to accommodate the growing number of inmates. In addition to housing male offenders, the prison also has a unit for female inmates and a specialized unit for those with mental health needs.

Types of prisons in Minnesota

Minnesota has four different types of prisons: maximum security facilities, medium-security facilities, minimum security facilities, and a women’s facility. The type of facility that an inmate is placed in is determined by the severity of their crime, their behavior in prison, and the inmate’s background. Rehabilitation programs are offered in all prisons, with access to education, healthcare, and mental health services.

The maximum security facilities in Minnesota are designed to house the most dangerous and violent offenders. These facilities have the highest level of security and the strictest rules and regulations. Inmates in maximum security facilities are typically confined to their cells for most of the day and have limited access to programs and services.

On the other hand, minimum security facilities in Minnesota are designed for non-violent offenders who pose a low risk to society. These facilities have less strict rules and regulations and offer more freedom to inmates. Inmates in minimum security facilities may have access to work release programs and other community-based programs to help them transition back into society.

The role of the Department of Corrections in managing prisons

The Department of Corrections is responsible for managing the prisons in Minnesota. This includes providing a safe and secure environment for both inmates and staff, ensuring that inmates receive adequate nutrition, medical care, and access to rehabilitation programs, and monitoring these facilities to ensure that they are meeting industry standards.

Additionally, the Department of Corrections is also responsible for overseeing the release of inmates back into society. This involves providing them with resources and support to successfully reintegrate into their communities, such as job training and housing assistance. The department also works closely with parole officers to monitor the behavior and compliance of released inmates, and may impose sanctions or revoke parole if necessary.

What are the security levels of prisons in Minnesota?

Minnesota has different levels of security in its prisons, including maximum, medium, and minimum security. Maximum-security prisons are reserved for the most dangerous offenders, while minimum-security prisons hold inmates who have already demonstrated good behavior and low risk to the public.

Medium-security prisons in Minnesota are designed to hold inmates who have committed serious crimes but are not considered to be as dangerous as those in maximum-security prisons. These facilities have more relaxed security measures than maximum-security prisons, but still have a significant level of supervision and control over the inmates.

In addition to the three main security levels, Minnesota also has specialized facilities for certain types of offenders. For example, the state has a sex offender program that provides treatment and supervision for individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes. These facilities have a high level of security and are designed to prevent offenders from reoffending.

How are prisoners classified in Minnesota?

Prisoners in Minnesota are classified into different groups based on their age, gender, and the level of security required. This classification system is crucial in ensuring that inmates are placed in the appropriate facilities and offered suitable rehabilitation and education programs.

The classification process begins with an initial assessment of the inmate’s criminal history, behavior, and medical and mental health needs. Based on this assessment, the inmate is assigned a security level, which determines the type of facility they will be placed in. Inmates with a higher security level are placed in maximum-security facilities, while those with a lower security level are placed in minimum-security facilities.

Overview of the inmate population in Minnesota prisons

There are currently over 8,000 inmates incarcerated in Minnesota prisons. The majority of the inmates are male, while a small portion of them are female. The average age of inmates in Minnesota prisons is 35 years.

Minnesota prisons house inmates who have been convicted of a variety of crimes, ranging from drug offenses to violent crimes. The most common offense for which inmates are incarcerated in Minnesota is drug-related offenses. In addition, a significant number of inmates are serving time for property crimes such as theft and burglary.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections provides a range of programs and services to inmates, including educational and vocational training, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services. These programs are designed to help inmates successfully reintegrate into society upon their release and reduce the likelihood of recidivism.

The impact of overcrowding on Minnesota prisons

Minnesota, like many other states, has struggled with prison overcrowding leading to security challenges and inadequate access to rehabilitation programs. Overcrowded prisons lead to increased risk of violence, lack of quality medical and educational services, and other challenges that make rehabilitation and re-entry into society difficult. In recent years, the Minnesota Department of Corrections has worked to reduce overcrowding by implementing a range of innovative measures, including alternative sentencing programs and early release options.

Despite these efforts, the issue of overcrowding in Minnesota prisons remains a significant challenge. As of 2021, the state’s prison population is still well above capacity, with some facilities operating at over 150% of their intended capacity. This has led to ongoing concerns about the safety and well-being of both inmates and staff, as well as the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs. While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to address the root causes of overcrowding and ensure that Minnesota’s prisons are safe, effective, and just.

The costs associated with running Minnesota prisons

Running prisons in Minnesota is a costly affair. The state has invested millions of dollars in operating the different facilities, providing amenities and services to inmates. These costs include housing, feeding, and providing medical care, security personnel, and rehabilitation programs. The Minnesota Department of Corrections receives funding from the state to ensure that facilities operate smoothly and provide adequate rehabilitation services.

Despite the high costs associated with running prisons in Minnesota, there have been efforts to reduce the number of inmates and therefore, the expenses. The state has implemented alternative sentencing programs, such as community service and electronic monitoring, for non-violent offenders. Additionally, there has been a push for more mental health and addiction treatment programs to address the root causes of criminal behavior and reduce recidivism rates. These efforts not only save money but also promote a more effective and humane criminal justice system.

Rehabilitation and education programs offered to inmates in Minnesota prisons

Rehabilitation and educational programs are crucial in ensuring that inmates are adequately prepared to re-enter their communities once they are released. In Minnesota, prisoners have access to a range of programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, vocational training, and higher education programs.

Additionally, Minnesota prisons offer programs that focus on restorative justice, which aim to repair harm caused by criminal behavior and promote healing for both the victim and the offender. These programs include victim-offender dialogue, community service, and peacemaking circles. By participating in these programs, inmates can gain a deeper understanding of the impact of their actions and work towards making amends. This approach has been shown to reduce recidivism rates and promote a more positive re-entry into society.

Re-entry services for released prisoners in Minnesota

Re-entry services are offered to inmates released from prison to ensure that they re-adjust to life outside of prison. These services include job training, housing, and counseling to enable them to lead productive lives without returning to criminal activity. Minnesota has implemented several programs, including special courts and probation services, to help released prisoners reintegrate back into society successfully.

One of the most successful re-entry programs in Minnesota is the Minnesota Prison Doula Project. This program provides support to pregnant inmates and new mothers, helping them to navigate the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood while incarcerated. The program also offers postpartum support and parenting classes to help these women successfully transition back into society with their children. By providing these services, the Minnesota Prison Doula Project has helped to reduce recidivism rates among female inmates and improve outcomes for both mothers and their children.

Comparing Minnesota’s prison system to other states

Minnesota’s prison system is unique and has features that are distinct from other states. However, the Minnesota Department of Corrections often compares systems and policies with other states to update and improve its operations continually. By learning from other approaches taken across the country, Minnesota aims to enhance its services and implement more effective rehabilitation programs.

One area where Minnesota’s prison system stands out is in its focus on education and vocational training for inmates. The state offers a variety of programs, including college courses, apprenticeships, and job training, to help inmates gain skills and prepare for life after release. This emphasis on education has been shown to reduce recidivism rates and improve outcomes for former inmates.

Another notable feature of Minnesota’s prison system is its use of restorative justice practices. This approach emphasizes repairing harm caused by criminal behavior and promoting healing for both victims and offenders. Restorative justice programs in Minnesota include victim-offender dialogues, community service projects, and mediation sessions. These programs have been successful in reducing conflict and promoting understanding between inmates and the broader community.

Controversies surrounding the Minnesota prison system

Just like any other prison system, the Minnesota prison system has faced various controversies over the years. Issues surrounding violence, mental health treatment, staffing shortages, overcrowding, and racial disparities in the system have been areas of concern. However, the Department of Corrections has actively worked with stakeholders to address these issues and make necessary reforms.

Future plans for improving and reforming the prison system in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Corrections has several plans to improve and reform the prison system. These plans include expanding rehabilitation programs, investing in better facilities, addressing racial disparities in the system, and reducing overcrowding by introducing alternative sentencing and early release programs. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the Minnesota prison system is safe, efficient, and offers adequate rehabilitation programs for better re-entry into society.


In conclusion, the Minnesota prison system boasts a robust framework consisting of different types of correctional facilities, rehabilitation programs, and re-entry services. Through constant reforms and measures such as reducing overcrowding, implementing innovative programs, and improving rehabilitation services, the Department of Corrections aims to make the system more efficient and more beneficial to the inmates. This is part of the state’s overall aim to promote public safety while transforming its justice system into one that is equitable, humane, and effective.