ST. CLOUD (WJON News) - Several construction projects are wrapping up at the Minnesota Correctional Facility – St. Cloud.

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The road work on Highway 301 in front of the facility this summer included some improvements to the exterior. Warden Jesse Pugh says more work is wrapping up on the interior fence. He says the large crane near the facility is necessary for workers to get in and out.

We've got some work in our courtyards, and the only way for the construction crews to complete their work and access those areas is through the cranes. So they're hoisting materials and the workers up over the front of the institution into the courtyards where they hang from baskets on the crane to complete the work that they're doing for the fence.

Pugh says the interior fence works to add high-tech features to the existing granite wall that surrounds the facility.

The wall is great. However, it's very old technology. And as time has gone on, the advances in technology, fence detections, and shaker systems have really improved. So it's really taking that and adding another layer of security that is up to up to today's standards.

Other summer construction projects included replacing the roof on the old license plate building. The St. Cloud prison’s original cellblock building was built in 1889.

CLOUD IS STILL THE FIRST STOP.

Warden Jesse Pugh says the facility remains the first stop on an inmate’s stay in the system. From St. Cloud, inmates are moved to any of the facilities in the state. Inmates receive a comprehensive intake evaluation covering education level, addiction and dependency issues, and many other factors. Based on the results of those tests, the inmates may be moved to whatever facility has the custody level and programming the inmate needs.

The facility has space for about a thousand inmates, and Warden Pugh says they receive about 300 intakes a month, so they must transfer about 300 a month to other facilities to maintain an inmate population of about 950 at any one time.

St. Cloud’s facility specializes in adult basic education and houses a vocational barber school, graduating more licensed barbers than any other school in the state. In addition, St. Cloud hosts short-term programs for substance use disorder and sex offender treatment.

A LITTLE HISTORY

The original cell block at the Minnesota Correctional Facility was built in 1889. While not the largest in the state system, the St. Cloud facility is the oldest. Originally known as the Minnesota State Reformatory for Men, it was designed to rehabilitate first-time offenders between the ages of 16 - 30, through industrial work-programming activity. The site was chosen to utilize the quarrying of granite for the construction of the facility and it was largely built with inmate labor.

The granite wall around the facility, completed in 1922, claims it’s the second longest wall made by incarcerated labor, behind the Great Wall of China.

In 1996, it became the initial entry point for all male inmates in the Minnesota System, a role it continues today.

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