Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, as well as Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell, recently met with Del Shea Perry to commemorate the legacy of her son and the passage of the Hardel Sherrell Act.
Mr. Sherrell died as a result of medical neglect while in custody at the Beltrami County Jail in 2018.
After her son’s death, Perry founded the organization “Be Their Voices” to advocate for the incarcerated experiencing abuse, neglect or mistreatment, and was the lead advocate for the Hardel Sherrel Act.
The legislation passed with unanimous support after a June special session this year.
The act requires the establishment of minimum standards on mental health, suicide prevention, medication administration and discharge planning, code of conduct policy development, and death reviews in correctional facilities.
“The Hardel Sherrell Act shows that bipartisan reform is possible,” said Governor Walz.
“For true reform, and to keep our communities safe, we need to be able to hold people accountable when they fail in their duty to protect those in their care and custody. And now we’ve changed 115-year-old statutes to bring some much-needed accountability to the system. Del Shea’s strength in the wake of unspeakable loss made this possible. To her, and to the countless other advocates involved – thank you for your tireless work. The loss of Hardel Sherrell is irreparable, and this legislation does not bring a mother’s son back. But it does mark the start of meaningful change that will save lives for decades to come.”
“Through her tireless work to pass the Hardel Sherrell Act and make our state better for all Minnesotans, Del Shea Perry has taught me about the power of a mother’s love. It should not have taken the death of her son, Hardel, to get here,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan.
“With the passage of this legislation, Minnesota’s correctional facilities will be held to a higher standard to ensure no parent has to endure such a terrible loss ever again. As we move forward, we will continue fighting for incarcerated Minnesotans, and we will continue fighting for Hardel.”
“We have a crisis situation in our state and we desperately needed reforms to save lives,” said DOC Commissioner Schnell.
“People are held in custody for a wide array of reasons – it shouldn’t be a death sentence because of a failure to provide basic levels of care. The Hardel Sherrell Act sets clear expectations that will improve the standards of confinement, help ensure all incarcerated individuals are treated with basic levels of care and save lives.”