Creating the Will To Do Right

Understanding the Minnesota Department of Corrections

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The Minnesota Department of Corrections is a state-run agency that oversees the operation of several prisons.  It operates 12 facilities of varying security classes for men, women and juveniles and they have several programs to help rehabilitate inmates.  Their primary goals as a corrections institution is to discipline criminals and help them understand what they are accountable for, keep the public safe, provide treatment for inmates that have drug addictions and prepare criminals for going back out into the real world.  It is not an easy job, but the Minnesota Department of Corrections has a dedicated staff and the organization to keep the streets clean.

A Brief History

The Minnesota Department of Corrections has a rich history and begins before Minnesota was even a state.  The first territorial prison began construction in 1853 in a town called Stillwater.  Five years later, Minnesota officially became a state and this became the first of many state prisons.  In 1867, a second institution was opened, which was a house for juveniles.  This was also one of the first correctional institutions that did not use bars or security walls for protection.

Over the years more prisons were built and laws came into effect that affected both the children’s reform school and the prisons.  Some famous inmates were incarcerated in the Stillwater prison, including the younger brothers of Jesse James.  However, the department was not actually founded until 1959.  This was a way to streamline the various boards that controlled the juveniles, adult institutions and parole into one efficient machine.

The Re-integration Program

The Minnesota Department of Corrections has several ambitious programs for helping re-integrate felons back into society.  This can be difficult because after being in such a strict environment for so long, it can be difficult to deal with so much freedom.  This is an all-to-common problem and is the main reason why many become repeat offenders.

One of their most ambitious programs is the Challenge Incarceration Program, or CIP.  It is a long-term, three stage process.  The first phase lasts for a minimum of six months and is analogous with a military school mixed with psychological training.  There is a lot of drilling, teaching of basic education and physical training.  Depending on how well you respond, you will also be put on a work crew.  During phase two you are released into a community-like environment that simulates the outside world.  This phase is still under high surveillance, but has less structure.  Phase three is similar to phase two, though there is even less surveillance involved.  Once phase three is complete, the prisoner is released from prison, but is supervised for the remainder of their sentence.  It is important to note that anyone who fails to complete stage two or three are returned to prison with an increased sentence.

This is only one of many ways that the Minnesota Department of Corrections tries to help prisoners get used to life on the outside and keep them from turning back to their old ways.  They do their best to make offenders understand that they have a free will and can choose to do right or wrong; nothing forces them.  As the future unfolds, the Minnesota Department of Corrections will continue to believe this and offer the best protection they can.

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