Appleton wants private prison reopened to house Trump's 'criminal aliens'

The private prison in Appleton, Minnesota might soon house aliens whose spaceships crash on Earth.

The private prison in Appleton, Minnesota might soon house aliens whose spaceships crash on Earth. Mark Vancleave, Star Tribune

Appleton, Minnesota just really wants some prisoners, OK?

For a while now, the southern Minnesota town has been just begging the state of Minnesota to please, please reopen the Prairie Correctional Facility, a vacant prison that could house a population of 1,600, or a couple hundred more people than live in Appleton.  

Progressives hate this idea: America puts enough people in prison already, they say, and CoreCivic, the private corporation that wants to run the reopened joint, is generally known to be rotten to the first word of its compound name.

Aside from its abhorrent record of prisoner treatment, here's an enlightening little anecdote about CoreCivic, which has also generously offered to let the state take the prison site off its hands.

Though the owner of the prison, CoreCivic, sued to get the value of the prison down to $14 million when it came to calculating property taxes, they recently asked the state for $99 million for it.

 Wouldn't you want to get into business with those guys? The City of Appleton still really, really does.

As noted on the Bluestem Prairie blog, they're now bypassing the state altogether, and appealing to a higher, less-holy power.

Back in February, in his speech to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump called for the establishment of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), a new office under the Department of Homeland Security, which would document all the immigrant-committed crimes "ignored by our media and silenced by special interests." Later, VOICE set up a hotline for people to report "criminal aliens." It did not go as planned.

Nevermind you and your humorous puns, internet! Appleton wants in on the action. A petition created by the City of Appleton (in partnership with Swift County) calls on the federal Bureau of Prisons to award a contract to CoreCivic to help "meet the needs for housing criminal aliens."

Then they explain why: "This company makes a significant economic impact on our area through job creation and participation in community outreach. CoreCivic pays competitive wages with an excellent benefit package to employees. We would like to see CoreCivic reopen the Prairie Correctional Facility to foster development in our community like it has done in the past."

That is: To Appleton, these "criminal aliens" aren't a matter of national security, as Trump sees them, but of job security. (Though Bluestem notes unemployment in Swift County is at about 3.4 percent.) So far, 363 people have signed the petition, with many making the same point.

"I grew up in this small community and watched the changes that occurred because of the prison closing," writes one supporter. "It would be great to see it opened again." Writes another: "The area would benefit from this and is in need of the quality jobs it would create."

So maybe this is Trump's America. If the local economy's bad, you give people jobs by hiring them to run a prison. Hell, even if it isn't bad. Let's just lock some people up. Who will think of the shareholders?

Anyway, here's a short documentary about criminal aliens and how to handle them.