House approves bill to ban private prisons

The Minnesota House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday night that would ban private prisons in the state.

House File 1200 was authored by Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL-St. Cloud) and passed by a vote of 70-61.

The bill bans private prisons by prohibiting the Department of Corrections and local sheriffs from allowing inmates in their custody to be housed in correctional facilities that aren’t owned and operated by the state or local government, lawmakers say.

“Private prisons have a troubling record of cutting corners in order to maximize profits. Recidivism is good for their bottom line, and more crime means more profit,” Wolgamott said in a statement. “Public safety should be done by public workers who are accountable to Minnesotans. It’s time to ban private prisons in Minnesota.”

At least five other states have passed similar legislation, and President Joe Biden issued an executive order in 2021 that would phase out the Justice Department’s use of private prisons.

Minnesota hasn’t had any private prisons since 2010, which is when Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton closed.

Companion legislation is still working its way through Senate.

Follow the progress of other notable bills throughout the session with KSTP’s Legislative Tracker.