The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 4, 2013

Security Hospital gets NEW FENCES

Change to make environment more therapeutic for mentally ill, will not affect sex offenders

By Dan Linehan
The Mankato Free Press

---- — The razor-wire fences around the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter’s Regional Treatment Center are being replaced with “no-climb” fences to create a more soothing environment for patients.

“The no-climb fence offers the same protection and is certainly more conducive to a therapeutic environment,” said Anne Barry, a deputy commissioner with the state Department of Human Services.

The change only affects the mentally ill and dangerous residents, not the sex offenders.

There are two distinct groups of residents in the Regional Treatment Center. The Minnesota Security Hospital houses the mentally ill and dangerous, while the Minnesota Sex Offender Program holds those civilly committed for sex crimes.

The fencing at the Security Hospital had been replaced in one yard, and work hasn’t yet started on the second yard.

Barry said the new fences are “almost impossible” to climb but aren’t as dangerous or threatening. The fencing is chain link up to 12 feet, with 4 feet of no-climb mesh on top.

She said there hasn’t been a report of a patient trying to scale the razor-wire fence since the early ‘90s.

“This is a preventive measure,” she said.

This change was part of a larger $51.15 million bonding request that, like almost all of the other proposed projects in the state, wasn’t approved by the Legislature this session.