Minnesota Correctional Facility – Stillwater

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State Prison Historic District
Minnesota Correctional Facility–Stillwater.jpg
Main entrance of the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Stillwater
Location Bayport, Minnesota
Built 1910–1914
Architect Clarence H. Johnston, Sr.
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 86001574[1]
Added to NRHP July 10, 1986

The Minnesota Correction Facility – Stillwater (MCF-STW) is a close custody (level 4) state prison for men in Minnesota, United States.

Built 1910–1914 and located in Bayport, Washington County, it houses 1600 inmates in seven different living areas. Additionally, approximately 100 inmates are housed in a nearby minimum security area. It replaced the original territorial prison located just to the north in the city of Stillwater, Minnesota. Until recent expansion of the medium custody (level 3) facility in Faribault, MCF-STW was the state's largest facility by inmate population. It was built in the "telephone pole" style, with a large main hallway connecting each of the units.[2]

One of three Level 4 (Close) custody facilities in Minnesota, the prison is home to a prison industries program, education programs, and the Atlantis chemical dependency treatment program. A small number of inmates are selected for the facility's fine arts painting program.

The offenders housed in the minimum security area are responsible for the maintenance of the grounds surrounding the prison, and for cleaning office areas within the non-secured areas inside the main prison facility.

MCF-STW has recently undergone a number of modernization efforts, including the demolition of an antiquated medical building and construction of a modern segregation unit capable of housing up to 150 inmates.

In 2008, three inmates attempted to tunnel their way out. Their plan was thwarted by the authorities.

The prison is mentioned briefly in the Coen Brothers movie Fargo.

It is also mentioned in the 1939 James Cagney film "Each Dawn I Die."

Notable one-time Stillwater prisoners include Frank Elli, author of 'The Riot'; and Harley M. Sorensen, former columnist for SFGate.com. Elli wrote 'The Riot' and other books in Stillwater prison and was a member of the Ink Weavers writing group there. Sorensen was editor of the Stillwater Prison Mirror, the inmate publication still produced by the men at Stillwater. Sorensen's posthumous first book, 'Prison Is A Place,' documents life in Stillwater Prison in the early 1970s through the author's exchange of letters with a St. Paul religious studies class.

The Prison Mirror newspaper recently celebrated its 125th anniversary (August 2012 issue). It was founded in 1887 with the warden's permission using funds from prisoners including the Younger brothers, members of the Jesse James Gang, and is believed to be the oldest continuously published prison newspaper in the United States. It has been named the best prison newspaper in the United States several times winning the Charles C. Clayton award in 1969 and 1987 from the University of Illinois – Carbondale, and a similar award from Amicus in 1985. At present, August 2012, the editor is Matt Gretz. Topically, the newspaper has a tight focus on life in the prison covering sports such as broom hockey, basketball and dodge-ball, educational pursuits and achievements of the prisoners, notable visitors and available support programs, and other matters. A regular column called 'Ask the Warden' presents questions and requests to the warden. Comings and goings of staff members are often noted. Most issues feature poetry and art work produced by the prisoners. In-depth features in recent months (2012-2013) included an interview with several 'lifers' including the so-called 'Want Ad Killer," Harvey Carignan; an examination of Minnesota's prison commissary prices and the supplier, MINNCOR; and a cover story about the aging population of America's prisons. Subscriptions to The Prison Mirror are $10 per year.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ Ferguson, Robert (1985-09-30). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form: Stillwater State Prison Historic District" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°01′40″N 92°47′21″W / 45.02778°N 92.78917°W / 45.02778; -92.78917