Prison Death Investigated as a Homicide, Inmate in Custody

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The death of an inmate at the Rush City prison is being investigated as a homicide, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Officers were doing regular rounds at the Minnesota Correctional Facility and found James Francis Howard with face and head injuries in his cell about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, correction officials said Monday.

Staff began life-saving measures until paramedics arrived. Officers took Howard’s cellmate into custody. Howard was pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m. Monday.

Corrections officials say the 56-year-old Howard was serving a sentence for a homicide that began in 2012 with a release date of 2034.

The inmate in custody is serving time for assault. His sentence began in May 2020 with a release date next month.

The two men were cellmates in a temporary housing unit, which means they are not actively engaged in employment or programming, officials said.

The DOC’s Office of Special Investigations, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.

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