George Floyd had been killed just days before. The eyes of the nation were on Minnesota as it became the epicenter of America’s reckoning with inequality and injustice.
It was with that backdrop that investigative reporter A.J. Lagoe received a tip from a source; “If you really want to shine a light on needless deaths, take a look at how medical and mental healthcare is provided in Minnesota jails.”
That launched a multi-year investigation with disclosures so revelatory it is directly credited with forcing a lifesaving jail reform law named in honor of Hardel Sherrell - one of the men whose needless deaths KARE 11 exposed.
The new "Cruel and Unusual" podcast expands on the award-winning investigative journalism reported by the KARE 11 Investigates team. In this podcast series, KARE 11 investigates mysterious deaths swept under the rug and ignored by those in power. It exposes a deadly pattern: people left to suffer, begging for help that doesn’t come. It also reveals a state turning a blind eye to a jail doctor with a troubled past and the denial of life-saving medical and mental healthcare behind bars.
“It’s hard to look away when you hear a story like that,” said State Representative Jamie Long, “and it’s hard to look away when you have a face for a bill where nobody can argue that that should not have happened.”
KARE 11's reporting led to the Hardel Sherrell Act, passed in June 2021, which creates greater accountability to ensure incarcerated people receive medical and mental healthcare, provides enhanced authority for the state to shut down troubled jails, and updates a 115-year-old law putting parameters around use-of-force in jails and prisons – including banning prone restraint – the controversial law enforcement technique that caused George Floyd’s death.
“There is no doubt that this reform will save lives in Minnesota,” said Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell. “This is a massive change and something that was long overdue.”
Listen to the Cruel & Unusual podcast below, or download from your favorite podcasting platform:
READ MORE from KARE 11's original "Cruel & Unusual" investigative reports:
WATCH: KARE 11's "Cruel & Unusual" special on YouTube: