Justice Department Finds Minnesota Department of Corrections Violates Rights of Incarcerated Individuals with Disabilities
Department of Justice - Office of Public Affairs - Press Release Number: 22-1054 Topic(s): Civil Rights Disability Rights - Component(s): Civil Rights Division Civil Rights - Disability Rights Section
On Sept. 30, 2022, the Justice Department found that the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MNDOC) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying incarcerated individuals with disabilities enrolled in its General Educational Development (GED) program opportunities to apply for and receive needed modifications on the GED exam. The MNDOC offers GED preparation courses and practice tests and administers the GED exam inside all of its adult prison facilities. The letter of findings asks the MNDOC to work with the department to resolve the civil rights violations identified during its investigation.
“The ADA gives people with disabilities, including people in correctional facilities, the right to equal access to educational opportunities, like GED programs,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division remains committed to enforcing the ADA and ensuring that all people with disabilities can learn and be tested not on their disabilities, but on their knowledge and skills.”
After receiving complaints and conducting its investigation, the department found that the MNDOC discriminate against individuals with disabilities in multiple ways, including by: (1) failing to notify them about reasonable modifications for GED courses, practice tests, and exams; (2) failing to give them reasonable modifications, such as extended time and breaks, in GED courses and on practice tests, and (3) preventing them from applying for GED exam accommodations. Without reasonable modifications, many incarcerated individuals with disabilities repeatedly failed their practice tests or official exams, were denied access to other prison programs and were released from incarceration without a GED. To fix these issues, the department’s letter asks the MNDOC to take corrective actions, including changing policies and procedures, putting an ADA coordinator in place, training staff, and reporting to the department.
Under Title II of the ADA, the department provided the MNDOC with written notice of the supporting facts for these findings and the remedial measures necessary to address them. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit http://www.justice.gov/crt. ADA complaints may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint.