BAYPORT, Minn. — Two inmates died of coronavirus this week in Minnesota prisons, bringing the total deaths in state correctional facilities to four, according to a prisoners union.
On Sunday, Nov. 8, the Twin Cities Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, which says more than 1,000 inmates and 200 prison staff members have been infected with COVID-19 in Minnesota, will rally outside Stillwater prison to declare a “state of emergency” in the state’s correctional facilities.
Outbreaks at state prisons include Stillwater, Lino Lakes, Rush City, St. Cloud and Shakopee, among others, the group said.
IWOC is asking the state to release low-risk or “medically fragile” prisoners so the remaining prison populations are able to socially distance.
The group says about 1,750 prisoners would need to be released to allow for social distancing in the prisons. So far, 153 prisoners were approved to be released out of 2,391 who applied, the group said, noting that other states — including Wisconsin, New Jersey, and California — have released prisoners because of COVID-19.
The group is also calling on the state to improve conditions in its prisons so inmates have “adequate access to showers, medical attention, cleaning supplies, exercise, and proper meals/nutrition.”