Update about Togo and Willow River prisons

Updated: March 03, 2021 06:47 PM
Created: March 03, 2021 11:25 AM

Good news for Togo and Willow River prisons. The facilities are staying open, according to Representative Rob Ecklund.

"We know they're not closing. We heard that loud and clear from the Department of Corrections when I introduced my bill," he said on Wednesday.

His bill, HF1767, is seeking money for a study to see if the Togo facility can also help Bois Forte with their detention needs and possibly as a chemical dependency treatment facility.

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Ecklund said thanks to work from his colleagues, Rep. Julie Sandstede and Mike Sundin, the closures were kept at bay.

The DOC had announced last summer that the plan was to close both facilities because of budget cuts. But the agency said thanks to the passage of the DOC's supplemental budget, both will remain open.

This is the message sent by the commissioner last fall to staff:

"Just a quick note to extend my gratitude to all of you for your efforts and advocacy on behalf of the CIP programs at Togo and Willow River.  It’s clear to me, that final passage of the DOC’s supplemental budget request was based on a number of critical factors: the quality of the services you provide, your obvious commitment to your work, your vocal advocacy for your programs, and the unwavering support of local legislators and members of the local communities.  
I will always remember the outpouring of community support for you and the programs you operate during the rally events in Nashwauk and Willow River. It’s not often that communities become so mobilized around the importance of correctional programs, and it’s not lost on me that the community support and turnout is because of you and your programs’ demonstration of the potential for transformation of the lives of the people we serve.
I want to thank all of you for your honesty and willingness to engage during my visits to both facility sites, and the Tele-Town Hall calls. As I’ve said during my visits and will repeat again, I’m sorry for all the stress and pain this situation created for you and your families."

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