Families demanding changes amid surging overdoses, lockdowns at Faribault prison

Families demanding changes amid surging overdoses, lockdowns at Faribault prison

Families demanding changes amid surging overdoses, lockdowns at Faribault prison

One family member says the upsurge of drug overdoses at Faribault prison is creating roadblocks for her incarcerated loved one.

Gerri says there are overdoses multiple times in just a matter of weeks. 

“One person in his unit overdoses and then he gets locked in,” Gerri said. “They can’t go to school, they can’t go to work, they can’t go to classes.”

Members of the Minnesota Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee tracked over 100 overdoses at the Faribault Correctional Facility alone since January. 

Elizabeth, who also has a loved one held at Faribault prison, says overdoses, not staffing shortages, have been the main cause of lockdowns. Families are demanding the DOC stop the lockdowns because it’s putting people’s mental health on edge.

“The mental health of these men are deteriorating, and causing unforeseen outbursts,” said Elizabeth. “They don’t get to shower; they don’t get to talk to loved ones. No kiosk, no emails, no nothing. They’re completely shut out of the world.”

In a statement, the DOC said in part, “MCF-Faribault and facilities across the state prison system are subject to periods of lockdown for a range of security and facility management reasons, which include staffing levels and when drug contraband is suspected.”

Loved ones note that while there are drug tests and often searches of the incarcerated individuals, including their environments and personal belongings, they haven’t heard of DOC staff being searched or drug tested. 

The DOC responded, “The Minnesota Department of Corrections, and corrections departments across the nation, have been working to control the introduction of synthetic drugs which enter the prison system through the U.S. mail. These synthetic compounds can be very difficult to detect. Additionally, the synthetic substances are often dangerous and toxic to ingest, with users typically requiring medical attention.”

“When they are on lockdown, they are unable to attend any of their programming. It’s destroying people’s little sliver of hope that they’re like moving towards betterment by confining them in a small space alone,” Gerri said.

About two years ago, a prison guard admitted mailing Stillwater and Faribault inmates synthetic marijuana. That same year, another corrections officer pled guilty for smuggling drugs into Stillwater prison.