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home : columnists : columnists July 24, 2017

3/8/2013 1:16:00 PM
Along the Way...
Rosie Schluter

You think your folks were strict? What if your mom was a prison warden and your dad was a probation/parole officer? And if they left town they had the local police check out how their kids were doing at home!

This is how it was in the home of the first female warden in 122 years at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Red Wing. Kathy Halvorson visited Cannon Falls recently to respond to questions from kids and adults at a meeting of TRIAD at the Shepherd's Center.

Halvorson has had many previous jobs in the field of corrections to prepare for this position. Those in the Red Wing facility are "serious chronic male offenders." They may range from aggravated robbery, controlled substance crime, to murder - unintentional or intentional. They may have had two to three placements that failed. Current juvenile population is 130. There are also adult male offenders. Over 40 currently reside in a separate area.

The Red Wing facility was built on a 450 acre site in 1891. The purpose was to restore the offender, promote public safety, and provide a therapeutic environment, among other goals.

They keep order by making sure the boys are safe and keeping them in small groups consistent with their age level. They don't socialize with the adult offenders.

Halvorson explained that they have nine months to a year to help the young men make better choices. This includes helping them find jobs. The costs: 65% is paid by the county and 35% by the state.

She added, "Some of the opportunities for residents include attending Walter Maginnis High School, located in the facility, learning carpentry skills, job seeking skills and vocational programming. Residents also participate in community service projects and projects that focus on restoring justice to victims.

"The adult population is made up of minimum custody offenders who serve on work crews around the community. They often assist local communities when nature disasters strike, like the Cannon Falls flooding last year."

Besides professional help for the young men, there are over 200 volunteers at the facility. These range from volunteer "grandparents" who make sure every kid gets a cake on their birthday, or they make cookies so the good smell permeates their cottage.

A tour of the Red Wing facility is being planned. Age requirement is over 18 years. Contact the Shepherd's Center at 263-2136 for more information.

And as far as I'm concerned about who had the strictest parents? I had them! Although they weren't wardens or parole officers, they were immigrants with a high standard for their American offspring! Something to live up to anyway... and not a bad deal when I think about it!

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