Mortality Data and Related Policies, 2000-2020

COVID Prison Project filed this request with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation of North Dakota.


From: COVID Prison Project

Michelle Linster
North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
PO Box 1898
Bismarck, ND 58502-1898

To Michelle Linster:

Pursuant to the North Dakota Open Records Law, I hereby request the following records:

– Those which include time and date of all instances of death occurring in the offender population between January 2000 and December 2020.

– Those which indicate the total number of individuals in North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (NDDCR) custody who died by any cause, separated monthly, from January 2000 to December 2020.

– Monthly population records that include the total number of deaths occurring among people in the custody of the NDDCR between January 2000 and December 2020.

– Final reports of death for all individuals in NDDCR custody who died between January 2000 and December 2020.

Additionally, I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of any and all NDDCR policies, regulations, and procedures, pertaining to...

– Investigations of in-custody deaths.

– Requirements for the performance of an autopsy or post-mortem medical examination of individuals who die while in NDDCR custody.

– The reporting of in-custody deaths to other governmental agencies.

– Next-of-kin notification in the event of in-custody deaths.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not. However, we respectfully request a waiver of these fees as we are affiliated with an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, and this request is made for a scholarly or scientific purpose and not for a commercial use.

If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.

I would note that violation of the open records law can result in the award of reasonable attorney fees, for which you may be held personally liable. See N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 132-9(c).

Thank you for your assistance.


Forrest Behne
Policy Director, COVID Prison Project
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Office: (919) 391-7962
340 MacNider Hall | Campus Box 7240
333 South Columbia Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240

From: Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation


For request #1 & #2: Attached is the records we have on deceased residents. We do not keep records of time of death. I can review records and see if there is any information on time of death, but I cannot guarantee how much information we have. The record retention on our files is six years after date of last action (expiration of sentence, parole/probation, or death). I estimate this will be one hour of time.
For request #3: Does the information provided for request #1 & #2 cover this request, or are you looking for the monthly population records for those times? If it is the latter, I will have to obtain an estimate for this portion as I do not know how far back we can pull information and how many hours it will take.
For request #4: We cannot provide those records as they are an exempt and confidential record under N.D.C.C. 12-14-36.
For request #5 - #9: Attached is our policy on Serious Injury, Illness or Death of an Adult in Custody.

Thank you,

Michelle L. Linster

From: COVID Prison Project

Ms. Michelle Linster,

Thank you very much for your prompt assistance in this matter. We are grateful for all of your help.


The COVID Prison Project