The prison was established in 1989 on the 140-acre (57 ha) campus of a former state mental hospital. Between 2005 and 2008, the Minnesota legislature funded a $129 million expansion and modernization program, which included the construction of four new 416-bed living units. The prison's medium-security inmates are now primarily housed within these four large "K" buildings, so called because each building consists of four wings in a "K" configuration around a central control rotunda, with each two-story wing capable of housing 104 inmates in two-bunk cells.
MCF-Faribault has educational facilities for GED and adult basic education, and provides education in construction trades such as flooring, drywall, and woodworking. The facility also houses a MINNCOR prison industry facility providing contract labor to outside vendors as well as a line of institutional and library furniture. The 180 bed "New Dimensions" chemical dependency treatment program provides a yearlong treatment program for alcohol and other drug dependent offenders. The minimum security unit, outside of the main prison's medium-security double fence, provides housing and supervision for community work crews.