Minnesota jail inmates with disabilities face barriers with no regulations

A recent lawsuit settlement resulted in significant changes in how jail staff will accommodate deaf inmates at four county jails in the future.

News Story (Minnesota)

David Chanen
Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)
November 3, 2016

Tags: Disability Rights, Prisoners Rights

Organizations mentioned/involved: Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid


More than 40 percent of jail inmates nationwide have at least one disability, according to a 2012 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The disabilities typically involve hearing, vision, memory and judgment, walking, self-care or ability to live independently.

The state’s largest county jails — in Hennepin and Ramsey counties — have detailed policies and training procedures for the care of disabled inmates. In August, Hennepin County jail officials received a letter from the Minnesota Disability Law Center praising its level of mental and medical treatment and services for the disabled.

Hennepin County’s policy spells out everything from the staff having a maximum of 72 hours to reasonably accommodate special needs for the disabled to the procedures for taking disciplinary actions against an inmate. It even discusses what to do with service animals.