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Letter: Appleton facility has potential

Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton.

As a former employee of Prairie Correctional Facility, which closed its doors in 2010, I believe the prison facility has a vital solution to overcrowding in the state’s prison system, but can give a solution to the mentally ill as well.

The prison is large enough to separate and house two different agencies, health and human services for the mentally ill and short-term housing for Minnesota Department of Corrections inmates winding down their prison sentences. Some state officials have had concerns over the mentally ill, who have been combative towards staff. Finding beds also has been an issue.

A joint venture could ease those concerns, as DOC officers could also monitor the mentally ill patients who could be treated in that same prison. This venture would also provide beds for those mentally ill arrested by the county jails, giving judges an option, rather than having them held in jails until beds open.

The mentally ill arrested also pose a management problem for officers working in the jails.

Appleton wants the state to lease the prison so they can receive property tax revenue, but if the state buys it, they don’t pay property tax, but here is the issue. Critics don’t want to support the private prison company, due to all the negativity and problems associated with private prisons, and there are many.

I say just buy the facility, which would also silence the critics.

The buy would still provide revenue to the city and county.

The purchase of the prison will bring steady well-paying jobs, while providing an economic boost to a small town struggling economically with a higher than normal unemployment rate.

I know the governor is not interested in leasing or buying the prison at this time, but maybe another vital multi-use could interest the governor, and this is a good way to part ways with Corrections Corp. of America once and for all.

Joe Raines