Many criminal justice reform advocates have adjusted their work, seeking immediate medical release for non-violent offenders from crowded detention facilities, and thus, reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Homecoming expat attendee, Professor Mark Osler of the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN, and a Grosse Pointe North alumnus recently discussed his efforts to provide medical clemency to prisoners in Minnesota with the St. Thomas Newsroom.

In the interview, Osler discussed his work with law students to develop a medical release program with Minnesota’s Department of Corrections.

The dangers of imprisoning individuals in tight quarters and on regimented schedules are obvious for Professor Osler. “We do know the danger [of COVID-19] in prison is existential. We have deaths in the state of Michigan; they’ve had extraordinary tragedies in their prisons,” Osler explained. “We’ve been somewhat lucky [in Minnesota] not to have the numbers of deaths we have in other places. The problem is that you have people locked in a confined space with no possibility for social distancing, little ability to clean and disinfect things. Because of that, there really does have to be a serious change. That means lessening the population so people can spread out more.”