Prison Abolitionists Target Architectural Firm

St. Louis Park, MN – Red paint and posters reading “No new jails” were plastered on the door of architectural firm Klein McCarthy at the beginning of the work day on September 9. Responding to a nationwide call-out for #ShutEmDown2021 actions on the anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion, autonomous prison abolitionist groups took part in the action which also featured graffiti and a banner drop over Highway 100.

Unicorn Riot received a statement from anonymous participants in the action who said they targeted Klein McCarthy Architects because their contract “to design a new $28-million jail” in Winona.

Headquartered in St. Louis Park, Klein McCarthy is one of the top “justice architecture and public facility design” firms in the Midwest.

The Winona County Jail was given a deadline of September 30, 2021, by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, to update their facility or downgrade to a 72-hour holding facility, after a 2018 inspection. Planning for a new jail has taken Winona County years and the proposed projects have faced plenty of community opposition.

Klein McCarthy has designed the proposed jail with updated security features and the county has another ‘jail design and construction committee meeting‘ on September 30 at 9:00 a.m.

Construction on the new jail is slated to be finished sometime in 2023. Until then, Winona County Jail can’t house inmates for more than 72 hours starting at the end of September. Inmates will be transported into Winona County Jail for court in the county and will be sent to Wabasha and Houston County jails for longer terms. Winona County laid off 13 of its detention deputies on September 7 in preparation of the downgrade.

Last month, Unicorn Riot heard from community members involved in Abolition Is a Practice, a bi-monthly abolitionist working group based in South Minneapolis. They told us about efforts to halt the new jail while building connections to the Winona-based Community Not Cages.