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COVID-19 Conditional Medical Release Process

(Versión en Español)

Under Minn. Stat. § 244.05, subd. 8, the commissioner of corrections has the authority to place adult inmates on conditional medical release before they have reached their supervised release date if they suffer from a grave medical condition and their release poses no threat to the public. Because COVID-19 presents a new threat to the health of people with particular medical conditions, adult inmates who previously would not have qualified for conditional medical release may do so now if their underlying medical condition puts them at risk of grave harm from COVID-19. In recognition of this new threat, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has created a process through which adult inmates who have a serious medical condition that puts them at higher risk of grave harm from COVID-19 can apply for early release. This process will temporarily replace existing DOC policy concerning medical release related to COVID-19.

Adult inmates who wish to be considered for medical release related to COVID-19 may, with or without outside assistance, submit applications through CMRrequest@state.mn.us or by mail addressed to the following address. Applications MUST be signed by applicants.

Guide to COVID-19 Conditional Medical Release Application

COVID-19 Conditional Medical Release Application

Minnesota Department of Corrections
ATTN: Conditional Medical Release Process Contact
1450 Energy Park Dr., Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55108

Once received, an application will go through a thorough review process:

  • A medical review by the DOC’s Medical Director to determine whether the applicant has an underlying medical condition that is currently serious and, if so, whether it puts them at higher risk of grave harm if they were to contract COVID-19.
  • A public safety review by multiple DOC staff to determine whether the applicant’s release would pose no threat to the public given an appropriate level of community supervision.
  • Applications that pass these reviews will then be forwarded to the commissioner of corrections, deputy commissioners, or a designee for possible granting of conditional medical release.

Inmates whose applications have been granted following the review process can be released once a final release plan has been developed and conditions of release have been approved.

Questions concerning this process can be submitted at CMRrequest@state.mn.us or through the mailing address listed above.

Conditional Medical Release Frequently Asked Questions

What is the DOC’s conditional medical release (CMR) review process? DOC’s CMR statutory authority allows us to release individuals who:

1. Have a serious medical condition that puts the applicant at higher risk of grave harm if they were to contract COVID-19; AND

2. Can be released without posing a threat to the public given an appropriate level of community supervision.

DOC reviews both medical eligibility AND public safety eligibility before approval or denial of an application. From there, an approved individual still must undergo release planning for supervision, including verification of suitable housing and access to medical coverage, before they may be released under our CMR authority.

Our medical review is completed by medical professionals assessing for serious medical conditions that put someone at higher risk of grave harm if they were to contract COVID-19. Our public safety review involves looking at a number of different safety factors that contribute to risk to community safety, such as criminal and disciplinary history, as well as a number of other factors.

Who is eligible for CMR? Eligible individuals include but are not necessarily limited to: 

• Individuals housed in any DOC facility who are committed to the MN Department of Corrections. 

• Individuals committed to the MN DOC but housed out of facility. 

• Individuals on work release whose place of confinement is a county jail. Note these individuals will first be evaluated for other release options.

• Individuals committed to the MN DOC but housed in a different state.

NOTE: Individuals housed in a MN DOC facility but committed to the authority of a different corrections agency (for instance, out of state convictions), are not eligible. They must apply for whatever is available to them under the authority of the other department of corrections.

Any questions about eligibility may be sent to CMRrequest@state.mn.us.

Are inmates subject to the parole process eligible for CMR? Individuals subject to the parole process are not eligible for the DOC’s conditional medical release related to COVID-19. Changes in custody status for these individuals result in different obligations for notification, publication, and parole process review.

How long will it take DOC to review conditional medical release applications? Our process has multiple layers of review to ensure we are staying within our statutory authority for release. At this point, we do not have an estimated timeline for you as it completely depends on the volume of applications a reviewer has any given day. If that changes, we will be sure to put it on the website.

Can anyone else sign an application besides the applicant? Generally, an application must be signed by the applicant. The only exception is an attorney who is officially representing the applicant and who first reviews the declaration on the application containing notices relating to the conditional medical release process with the individual prior to signature.

Are applications available in other languages? Yes. DOC has a Spanish translated application available by request through case workers or by emailing CMRrequest@state.mn.us or on our website: https://mn.gov/doc/community-supervision/covid-19-conditional-medical-release-process/covid-19-conditional-medical-release-spanish/. If additional languages are needed, please email the above email address and we will have it translated. 

How do inmates get a copy of the application? Applications are available in every unit in DOC facilities for all DOC inmates.

How will an inmate be notified of the DOC’s decision on their CMR application? Once a decision is made, we notify the applicant’s case worker to share the news and also any authorized people listed on the application.

Once an inmate is approved for conditional medical release, will they be released immediately? No, an inmate will still undergo a release planning process to ensure that appropriate community supports are in place. Supervision agents will be assigned to every inmate approved for CMR. Additionally, housing must be verified and any registered victims must be notified. Inmates also may not be released under DOC’s CMR authority until they are approved for health insurance either through private insurance of the inmate, veteran’s benefits, Medicare, or another federal or state medical assistance program. Many inmates approved for CMR will need to file an application and be approved for health benefits prior to release.

If an inmate is denied CMR, can they appeal? Inmates who have previously applied for and been denied conditional medical release may not reapply unless there is a material change in their underlying medical condition or other circumstances. An example of a material change would be if their health condition worsens and is no longer managed in the way that it was during the first review. New applications from an inmate who has been denied must explicitly state the material change for reconsideration. There is no appeal process.

Do conditional medical releasees have to have housing in Minnesota? No, but any out of state housing address could require more time for approval as it must go through the interstate compact process. Minnesota addresses can be evaluated more quickly.

If an inmate has not completed court ordered programming, can they be released on CMR? Yes. This is a conditional medical release based on DOC’s statutory authority under Minn. Stat. § 244.05, subd. 8 due to their underlying medical condition that puts them at risk of grave harm from COVID-19.

If an inmate has a detainer from another jurisdiction, can they be released under CMR? We cannot clear other jurisdictions’ detainers for individuals and individuals cannot be released on CMR until detainers are clear. Law students and clinicians at the three area law schools have volunteered to assist with removal of detainers. If you would like assistance from them, please contact Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s Lamp and Reentry Clinics at 651-695-7706 or covidrelease@mitchellhamline.edu.

Will a victim receive notification if someone is approved for conditional medical release before their supervised release date? Yes, if the victim has requested victim notification through Haven/Choice system (link below). Anyone registered will receive notice prior to any release from custody. We recognize that release raises concerns for individuals who have been victimized. We are in communication with victim services coalitions and will continue to keep them engaged in this process as we continue to process releases and reevaluate this program.

Before releasing anyone under our conditional medical release authority, DOC staff will check the victim notification system for anyone signed up to receive notice of that offender’s custody status. In order to be notified that DOC is releasing someone, eligible individuals should sign up for this notification service here. https://mn.gov/doc/victims/notification-of-custody-status-and-release/. There is still time to register.

If an inmate is released on CMR, can the release be revoked? Yes. Release may be rescinded without a hearing once the pandemic subsides or an inmate’s medical condition otherwise improves to the extent that continuation on conditional medical release presents a more serious risk to the public. It may also be revoked if a CMR releasee violates any condition of their release. If the CMR is revoked, individuals must turn themselves in or risk having a warrant issued.

Do inmates have to have medical insurance prior to conditional medical release? Yes. Health care must be obtained and either be borne by the inmate, veteran’s benefits, Medicare, or another federal or state medical assistance program.

Are individuals being admitted to DOC facilities (either for new convictions or violating terms of release) eligible for conditional medical release? Yes. Any inmate who applies will be reviewed and evaluated for eligibility. Upon intake, any inmate may apply.

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