12 Prisons in Minnesota: Inside the Correctional System

Prisons are a significant part of Minnesota’s criminal justice system, and they play a crucial role in the state’s efforts to maintain public safety. With a population of over 5.6 million people, Minnesota has a complex network of correctional facilities that house thousands of inmates. These facilities range from maximum-security prisons to community-based corrections centers, and they are managed by various state and local agencies.

Despite the state’s efforts to provide adequate care and rehabilitation services to inmates, the Minnesota prison system has faced challenges such as overcrowding, understaffing, and a lack of resources. This article will explore the history and current state of prisons in Minnesota, examining issues such as prison conditions, inmate rehabilitation, and the impact of incarceration on Minnesota communities.

Minnesota Prison Map

Use the Minnesota prison map below to locate any facility. Click on the map markers to read our detailed guide of that facility.

State Prisons

Prison NameLocationInmate CapacitySecurity LevelsGenderOperator/
MCF-FaribaultFaribault2,000Medium and minimumMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-Lino LakesLino Lakes1,300Medium and minimumMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-Oak Park HeightsOak Park Heights473HighMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-RWRed Wing88Secure and general populationMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-Rush CityRush City1,000HighMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-ShakopeeShakopee640Medium and minimumFemaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-St. CloudSt. Cloud, MN1,062Multi-LevelMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-StillwaterStillwater, MN1,625Multi-LevelMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-TogoTogo, MN90MinimumMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections
MCF-Moose LakeMoose Lake, MN~1,180Medium, MinimumMaleMinnesota Department of Corrections


Faribault is a city in Minnesota that is home to the Minnesota Correctional Facility (MCF)-Faribault.

The facility consists of a medium-security unit and a minimum-security unit located outside the secure perimeter, with a combined population capacity of 2,000 adult males, making it the largest facility in the DOC system.

Notable features of the facility include MINNCOR Industries, which manufactures wood furniture, cleaning products, and subcontract work. There is also a 176-bed treatment unit for alcohol and drug abuse, as well as a unit designed to house geriatric and other individuals who are unable to care for themselves in a normal correctional environment.

Interestingly, the facility was originally a state hospital that was shut down in the 1980s and was converted to correctional use in 1989, providing an important role in Minnesota’s correctional system.

Lino Lakes

MCF-Lino Lakes is a correctional facility in Minnesota that houses medium-security and minimum-security units with a population of 1,300 adult males. This facility is known for having the highest concentration of educational and treatment programs in the state.

In fact, many inmates serve the final phase of their sentence at Lino Lakes so that they can receive the services they need to prepare for release. One notable program is TRIAD, which is a 306-bed therapeutic community that provides substance abuse programming.

Additionally, the Lino Lakes Sex Offender Treatment Program is a 270-bed program that provides treatment for sexual offending, substance abuse, and mental health in an integrated manner. Research suggests that individuals who participate in this program commit new offenses at a significantly lower rate than untreated individuals.

Finally, Lino Lakes is also home to a Prison Fellowship Academy, which is a faith-based program funded and operated by Prison Fellowship through a partnership with the DOC. The facility was originally built in 1963 as a juvenile facility and was remodeled and converted into an adult facility in 1978.

Oak Park Heights

MCF-Oak Park Heights is a high-security prison in Minnesota that opened its doors in 1982. The facility can accommodate up to 473 incarcerated individuals and is known for its high custody level, making it the most secure facility in the Minnesota DOC system.

The majority of individuals housed here are designated at either maximum or close custody levels. However, individuals of any designated custody level can be housed at Oak Park Heights if they require specific levels of care.

The facility has a modern medical infirmary that can provide 24-hour care for all adult males in need of services from the Transitional Care Unit (TCU), as well as a Mental Health Unit (MHU) that assists adult males with severe mental health needs.

Educational programming includes Adult Basic Education (ABE), digital literacy, and General Educational Development (GED) State Adult and High School diploma programs, as well as computer career programming. The New Perspective, the incarcerated newspaper, has been in production since the late 1980s.

Oak Park Heights is also the site of the consolidated canteen service, operated by MINNCOR Industries, which serves all DOC facilities. The facility offers highly-structured programming, including mentorship programming, building character, lifer group, food services, restorative justice, institutional janitorial services, painters, and groundskeeping.

Red Wing

Red Wing, Minnesota is home to the Minnesota Correctional Facility–Red Wing (MCF-RW), a juvenile residential facility operated by the Department of Corrections. The facility was constructed in 1889 and consists of 30 buildings within a perimeter fence, including five general population living units and a secured unit.

MCF-RW has a licensed bed space capacity of 88, with each general population living unit capable of housing 16-24 youth and the secured unit capable of housing 30 youth. The secured unit serves as the facility’s intake and discipline unit, as well as providing secure detention bed space for counties.

Other buildings on the premises include a school, main kitchen, administration building, and various maintenance and storage buildings. MCF-RW’s mission is to encourage healthy living and social skills development in youth and prepare them to re-enter the community with appropriate resources for maintaining a healthy and pro-social lifestyle.

The facility complies with Children’s Residential Facility (CRF) licensing standards and participates in Performance-based Standards (PbS) to ensure evidence-based practices for youth.

Rush City

Rush City, Minnesota is home to the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Rush City (MCF-Rush City), a high-security prison that houses up to 1,000 adult males. Opened in 2000, MCF-Rush City is the newest facility of the Department of Corrections.

The prison is located on a 473-acre campus and features several buildings, including a secure perimeter fence, housing units, and administrative offices. MCF-Rush City offers a range of programs and services to inmates, including educational and vocational opportunities, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services.

The facility also has a visiting area where family and friends can visit inmates. Overall, MCF-Rush City plays an important role in the state’s criminal justice system, providing a secure and controlled environment for adult male offenders.


Shakopee, a city in Minnesota, is home to a correctional facility that has housed all female inmates since 1920. In 1986, the women were moved to a modern correctional facility from the old women’s reformatory building.

MCF-Shakopee provides evidence-based programming that is both gender-responsive and trauma-informed. This includes cognitive behavioral interventions like Moving On, Beyond Trauma, and Beyond Violence, as well as chemical dependency and mental health treatment.

The facility also offers academic and vocational educational opportunities. Women can work for MINNCOR Industries, and others may be employed on facility maintenance crews, food service, or other programs throughout the facility.

St. Cloud

St. Cloud in Minnesota is home to the Minnesota Correctional Facility (MCF)-St. Cloud, which was established in 1889. Originally known as the Minnesota State Reformatory for Men, the facility was designed to rehabilitate first-time offenders aged between 16 to 30, through industrial work-programming activity.

The location of the facility was chosen to take advantage of the abundant quarrying of granite for its construction, which was largely built using inmate labor.

Today, the facility no longer has the extensive industrial programming it once had, but it still offers unique programming such as Masonry and Barber programs, which are not found in other Minnesota DOC facilities.

MCF-St. Cloud also has the distinction of having the first female warden, the late Patt Adair, appointed to a male adult facility. The facility’s iconic granite wall is considered the second largest continuous wall made by incarcerated individuals, after the Great Wall of China.

Currently, MCF-St. Cloud is the admitting facility for all adult male inmates in the Minnesota DOC, and offers two chemical dependency programs, as well as Adult Basic and General Education programming.


Stillwater, Minnesota is home to the state’s largest close-security institution for adult males, the MCF-Stillwater. The facility was built in 1914 and consists of seven living units inside the main perimeter, as well as a minimum-security unit outside.

The history of corrections in Stillwater dates back to 1853 when the Territorial Prison was built on the north side of the city. In 1914, operations were moved to the current site in Bayport.

The role of MCF-Stillwater is to provide men with educational, vocational, and industrial programming opportunities during their incarceration. These programs include Adult Basic Education, literacy, GED, computer careers, higher education, carpentry, welding, machining, boiler operation, electrician, and more.

Through MINNCOR Industries, men have the opportunity to work in subcontract assembly and packaging, canteen fulfillment, and warehousing/delivery services. Additionally, Stillwater provides transitional life skills, behavioral change, and restorative justice programming.


MCF-Togo is a minimum-security prison located in Minnesota. The facility houses up to 90 adult male Challenge Incarceration Program participants. Originally opened in 1955 as Thistledew Camp for Youth, MCF-Togo’s mission changed in 2015 to focus on minimum-security adults.

The CIP-Togo is a six-month, intensive program designed for non-violent individuals who qualify for early release. Programming components include education, critical thinking skills development, chemical dependency programming, rigorous physical exercise, restorative justice work crews, and MINNCOR Industries firewood bundling for state parks.

Phases 2 and 3, supervised release phases, are generally six months in duration and served in the community. Facility work and programming include: MINNCOR Industries firewood bundling for state parks, Substance Use Disorder treatment serving up to 90 participants, Adult Basic Education and GED program, and Community work crews.

Moose Lake

Moose Lake, a city located in Minnesota, is home to the MCF-Willow River/Moose Lake, a correctional facility that houses approximately 1,000 men at the medium security unit and another 180 minimum security individuals at the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP) facility in Willow River.

The MCF-Moose Lake was previously known as the Moose Lake Regional Treatment Center before its conversion to a correctional facility in 1988. The facility is situated off Highway 73 in Moose Lake and is responsible for the safekeeping of the inmates in its care.

While Moose Lake itself is a quaint city, the MCF-Willow River/Moose Lake remains a significant part of the community, serving as a place for rehabilitation and reformation for its inmates.

Federal Prisons

Prison NameLocationInmate CapacitySecurity LevelGenderOperator/Manager
Federal Correctional Institution, SandstoneSandstone, MinnesotaApprox. 1,000LowMaleFederal Bureau of Prisons
Federal Correctional Institution, WasecaWaseca, Minnesota928LowFemaleFederal Bureau of Prisons

Federal Correctional Institution, Sandstone

The Federal Correctional Institution, Sandstone, is a low-security prison in Sandstone, Minnesota, that houses male offenders. The facility is run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.

It is located about 100 miles northeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul and 70 miles southwest of Duluth. FCI Sandstone is designed to provide a secure and safe environment for inmates while also offering educational and vocational programs to help them prepare for their eventual release.

The facility has a capacity of approximately 1,000 inmates and includes a range of amenities such as a library, recreation areas, and a chapel.

Federal Correctional Institution, Waseca

Federal Correctional Institution, Waseca is a low-security federal prison for female offenders in Minnesota. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.

The prison is situated 75 miles away from Minneapolis and was initially a University of Minnesota campus before its conversion into a prison facility in 1992. FCI Waseca houses female inmates who have been convicted of federal crimes and serves as a place for their confinement, rehabilitation, and preparation for reentry into society.

The facility provides inmates with programs such as education, vocational training, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services. FCI Waseca is an important part of the federal prison system in Minnesota.



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