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ACLU-MN sues Minnesota DOC for re-imprisoning people on conditional medical release

WCCO digital update: Morning of Aug. 12, 2022
WCCO digital update: Morning of Aug. 12, 2022 01:15

MINNEAPOLIS -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and other legal clinics are suing to stop the Minnesota Department of Corrections from reincarcerating people who were released from prison during the pandemic due to medical risk.

Two plaintiffs are listed on the complaint. The first, Tanya Mae Walker, gave birth in December and cares for her sick mother. Walker has also been helping others with addiction recovery.

"Ms. Wagner, through her extraordinary rehabilitation, does not deserve this sudden disruption of the eight-month bond she has built with her newborn," said JaneAnne Murray, director of the University of Minnesota Clemency Clinic, which represents Tanya Wagner.

The second plaintiff, Dale Allen, suffers from serious heart and lung issues and has open-heart surgery scheduled in two weeks. If he were incarcerated, he would not be able to undergo surgery, ACLU-MN says. Additionally, he cares for his parents.

The MNDOC notified those released on conditional medical release (CMR)  that they must surrender to the department on or before Aug. 15 to complete their sentences.

The complaint says the MNDOC justifies revoking CMR because there is now access to effective COVID-19 vaccines - however, only 35% of MNDOC inmates are fully vaccinated and boosted, and there are more than 100 active cases in the department as of last Wednesday.

The ACLU-MN says reimprisoning people released on CMR deprives them of their constitutional rights to due process.

"This action runs contrary to the rehabilitative purpose of the department — our clients have complied with all requirements of their release and changed their lives for the better," said ACLU-MN staff attorney Dan Shulman.

University of Minnesota's Law School Clemency Clinic and Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners join ACLU-MN in the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs and others facing CMR revocation.

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