Demonstrators call for investigation into conditions inside Stillwater state prison

Published 7:32 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The gathering followed a peaceful protest put on by close to 100 incarcerated people on Sunday to decry reduced shower, phone and recreation time, as well as dangerously hot rooms and poor water quality.

Protesters outside the front of the facility carried signs reading “Decarcerate MN” and “My dad deserves water.” They stood at a gate outside the building and shouted “We hear you, we see you, we love you, we’re with you,” as inmates inside shouted and whistled in response.

Marvina Haynes, whose brother is incarcerated in Stillwater, says the building will remain on lockdown through Tuesday and some inmates have fainted from the heat.

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“We are calling on the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to do an investigation into this,” Haynes said. “Also we’re calling on the Department of Corrections to work with community to ensure that our loved ones is getting the proper treatment.”

Chauntyll Allen, who is the director of criminal justice policy and activism with Wayfinder Foundation, called for an investigation into the way Minnesota prisons are run.

“I know that people wouldn’t allow this kind of treatment for dogs,” she said. “I don’t care what kind of crime or mistake you have made in your lifetime, you are still human. We need to investigate the people who are running these facilities.”

The Department of Corrections acknowledged there are issues with staffing and air conditioning at the facilities, but said the water has been tested. DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell says he intends to address air conditioning issues during the next legislative session.