Solitary confinement reform has been garnering attention over recent years, but gained attention here in Minnesota media in late 2016 when the Star Tribune ran a four-part series about practices in the Minnesota Department of Corrections. The articles highlighted the use of restrictive housing, the often long periods of time inmates would be in segregated housing, and the negative effects this can have on inmates, especially persons dealing with mental health issues.
There was a bill introduced to address some of the concerns highlighted in the articles. The bill codifies standard living conditions, requires periodic reviews of inmates’ status in solitary confinement, and adds requirements for daily health checkups including mental health. The bill also gives guidelines for discharging an inmate from segregated housing and adds annual legislative reporting requirements.
This bill will be a starting point for conversations regarding the health and safety of inmates in Minnesota’s correction system. The DFL has made and will continue to make the humane treatment of inmates a priority. (SF 608)