ACLU: Minnesota failing to protect inmates from COVID-19

Hundreds of cells line the walls inside of Stillwater prison.
Hundreds of cells line the walls inside of Stillwater Correctional Facility in Bayport, Minn. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is suing the state, alleging prison officials have not taken adequate precautions to protect inmates from COVID-19.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is suing the state, alleging prison officials have not taken adequate precautions to protect inmates from COVID-19.

The ACLU-MN filed a petition Thursday asking a court to force the state to keep people in custody safe.

The Department of Corrections said it was reviewing the lawsuit.

“We acknowledge the health risks presented by COVID-19, and we take seriously our responsibility to provide individuals sentenced to prison an environment that is as safe as reasonably possible under these difficult circumstances,” Commissioner Paul Schnell said.

Data posted on the DOC's website show 937 inmates in the prison system have tested positive for the virus, with 270 cases still active. Two inmate deaths have been linked to COVID-19.

There have been 237 correctional staff in the prison system who have tested positive for COVID-19, and 164 of them have returned to work, according to the database.

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