MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater is celebrating 100 years in operation. The historic building has approximately 20 acres within the walls and has over 60 buildings that house more than 1,600 offenders.
“I think over those years we’ve made a lot of great strides and improvements in what we do,” warden Michelle Smith said.
Smith said the offenders’ day to day life is exaggerated in the movies.
At the Stillwater facility they have access to a religious center, library, and fitness center. They’re fed three times a day, with meals picked by dieticians.
The offenders also work on site, where they can earn anywhere from a quarter to $2 an hour.
“Whether that’s welding, carpentry, computers [but] no internet, just those basic kind of skills for when they get out of here,” Smith said.
It takes more than 500 staff members to keep the facility running, 300 of those being correctional officers.
“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week this place has operated nonstop,” Smith said.
The 100-year-old facility has had upgrades to keep up with the times and be able to run nonstop, like electrically powered cell doors.
Cells were also converted to double bunk units to accommodate the increase in number of offenders.
What really sets it apart from other prisons, according to the warden, is the focus on life when they get out.
“They need to make better choices and we hope that the things we are doing here are giving them options for those better choices,” she said.
The Minnesota correctional system has a five level classification structure of security levels going from level two with minimum custody up to level five which is maximum custody. The Stillwater prison is level four.