Say no to Minnesota prisons

Minnesota is home to some of the largest racial disparities in the nation. The reopening of a private prison in rural Minnesota would only drive a wedge deeper into these racial disparities, as Minnesota disproportionately incarcerates people of color, including Native Americans. 
Appleton, Minn., is a small, rural farming town. In the 1990s, it built a prison that it soon sold to the nation’s largest for-profit prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). 
CCA operated the prison until it closed in 2010. Like much of rural Minnesota, Appleton now faces economic hardship.
Now that Minnesota is experiencing an inmate overcapacity, many Appleton citizens see reopening the facility as an opportunity to bring jobs. They cannot be blamed for wanting employment; however, to build a city’s local economy off the backs of incarcerated black and brown bodies — people who experience a higher rate of unemployment than the state’s white population — is horrifyingly wrong and completely unjustifiable.
Yes, Appleton needs economic opportunities. But so do communities of color. 
Social change and racial justice will never be achieved in this state by pitching its poor, white communities against poor communities of color. The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, astride a broad coalition of community organizations, opposes all additional prisons in Minnesota on the basis of racial equity, economic justice and basic human morality. 
MPIRG and members of Jewish Community Action will be hosting a press conference on Thursday in order to project this shared opposition to prisons, amplify the voices of those most affected by mass incarceration and propose economic alternatives for Appleton. 
Students should contact their legislators and demand no more prisons in Minnesota. 
Lindsey Mueller
Task force leader, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG)