Interfaith Letter: Protect Minnesotans in Jails and Prisons

As the COVID-19 public health emergency continues to grow, Minnesotans living in jails are prisons are facing a dangerous health crisis. In most living quarters, social distancing is nearly impossible, and the coronavirus is already spreading at many facilities. The first Minnesotan in prison to test positive for COVID-19 happened on March 30th in Moose Lake, and and three more tested positive just days later. 

MNIPL’s vision of inclusion in a green economy is threatened if we do not act to ensure the COVID-19 public health response includes the very relatives we hope will return to our communities. 

Sign our letter to Minnesota elected and appointed leadership urging a humane response to the COVID-19 outbreak in prisons and jails. 

Together we can help ensure people living in prisons and jails in Minnesota are not exposed to unsanitary, close quarters that will cause the COVID-19 to spread quickly in jails and prisons.  This can also affect the jail and prison personnel and surrounding communities.  At a minimum, we can express our support for offering people in jails and prisons with the appropriate health care and augmented policies that will combat the COVID-19 outbreak when (not if) it happens. 

We strongly support the following actions: 

  • Reduce jail, prison, and detention center populations before an outbreak occurs.  Releasing people from incarceration is the best and safest way to prevent the spread of disease and reduce the threat to the most vulnerable incarcerated people. 
  • Provide soap, CDC-recommended hand sanitizer, medical care, comprehensive sanitation and cleaning of facilities and other safety measures as recommended by the CDC for those who remain incarcerated free of charge.
  • Release to the public the existing plan and procedures in place to address COVID-19 within state and federal prisons, jails, and detention centers.
  • Protect, don’t exploit, incarcerated people as valuable labor but without doing anything to keep them safe and well.
  • Plan for when an outbreak happens inside prison, jail or detention center walls, and uphold the dignity and humanity of the people who remain confined. 
  • Stop the criminalization of Black and Brown communities as an excuse to ignore a public health solution. 

Sign our petition here.

We will be hosting four webinars on this topic, and we invite you to learn more about Returning Relatives Initiative and why we are making the connection to important policy and action during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Register to attend one of the upcoming webinars here: 

Click one of the links below to sign up for an upcoming webinar:



Whitney Terrill ·