From: Katie Mueller-Freitag
My name is Katie Mueller-Freitag, and I live in Winona County Board District Five. I have lived in Winona my entire life. I’m writing today to let it be known that I object to the construction of a new county jail. I understand that plans are being made for a 76- to 90-plus-bed jail and that land has been or is being purchased for said facility. COVID has exposed the over-incarceration of our community. The highest monthly inmate population for the Winona facility started the year off at 50 inmates in January. That number decreased down to as low as 19 by April with the average monthly population totaling 31 individuals. These numbers do not warrant the construction of such a large facility. I don’t agree with the argument that the county could lease these beds out, as it has been shown that the neighboring facility in Wabasha sits underused. With nearby space available at that new facility, and in comparing the costs, transporting seems favorable for those looking at this project through a financial lens. I do not want a juvenile detention center built into this facility and ask that the county invest in proactive measures rather than incarcerating children. I am also concerned about the fact that so little community input has been sought and that the planning committee appears to be made up mostly of people deeply entrenched in the “criminal justice system.” I ask that the matter be put on the agenda for future meeting and community input sought out.