Minnesota Department of Corrections


Instruction:               302.310LL                              Title: Use of Tobacco for American Indians

Issue date:                 3/1/16

Effective date:           3/15/16


AUTHORITY:          Division Directive 302.310, "Use of Tobacco for Indian Ceremonies"


PURPOSE:    To provide instructions for procurement, designated areas, distribution, and storage of tobacco and lighting material utilized in American Indian spiritual ceremonies.


APPLICABILITY:   Minnesota Correctional Facility - Lino Lakes (MCF - LL)


INSTRUCTION:       An offender may use tobacco and necessary lighting material in designated areas while participating in an American Indian spiritual activity with approval of the facility religious coordinator and captain or designee.  The religious activity coordinator or his/her designee schedules and arranges accommodations including security surveillance supervision, for religious ceremonies, activities, and special events.


DEFINITIONS:        None



A.        Designated area -– American Indian offenders may use cherry blend tobacco and lighting material in scheduled sweat lodge areas identified and approved by the religious coordinator and captain (see schedule).


B.        Scheduled group ceremonies

1.         The religious activity coordinator arranges and posts a schedule of the most current religious group ceremonies, including changes as necessary. 


2.         Offenders attending a group ceremony must sign up and prior to leaving for the group ceremony must check in at the living unit desk with the security staff, informing staff that he is attending the program. 


C.        Special ceremonies

1.         The religious activity coordinator or his/her designee may approve the use of tobacco for special ceremonies. 


2.         Except in emergencies (e.g., family death or other emergency) offenders must request the special use of tobacco at least two weeks prior to the date the activity is to occur. 


3.         The religious activity coordinator, in coordination with the captain/designee, approves/denies each request on an individual basis.


D.        Security surveillance/searches

1.         Security staff may be present at scheduled religious activities to search designated activity areas including:

a)         The sweat lodge;

b)         Storage shed; and

c)         All stored items in these locations. 


2.         Security staff may search offenders at any time (see Policy 301.010, “Searches”). Staff must conduct surveillance and searches in a courteous, respectful manner. 


3.         Security staff may request that American Indian artifacts be opened and contents viewed.


E.         Procurement

1.         Tobacco may be donated by an organization in the community or the American Indian offenders participating in the group activities may pay for the tobacco using the voucher system. 


2.         The religious practices committee must approve any significant ongoing changes in tobacco usage.


F.         Allocation

1.         Tobacco must be carefully weighed and placed into marked baggies for each event. 


2.         The Tuesday morning allocation for pipe carrier and fire starters is no more than 0.41 ounces of tobacco.


G.        Distribution

1.         The religious activities coordinator coordinates with the spiritual elder or other group designee to assign a pipe carrier to distribute tobacco at the ceremony. 


2.         Only one offender may be designated pipe carrier at a time. 


3.         The religious activity coordinator schedules a weekly time for the American Indian pipe carrier to obtain the tobacco, determining the amount given for the week based upon number of events scheduled, number of participants, and history of offender tobacco usage. 


3.         If the ceremony is located away from the sweat lodge area, the assigned security staff or the pipe carrier transports the tobacco to the site.


H.        Security staff distribution – security staff distribute the appropriately marked bag to the pipe carrier at the time of the pipe ceremony to assure the correct amount of tobacco is distributed to each group (e.g., bag marked Tuesday morning is for Tuesday morning only).


I.          Tobacco storage

1.         The religious coordinator weekly transfers the allotted amount to the locked cabinet in the shed in the sweat lodge area. 


2.         Security squad members supervising American Indian religious activities are authorized to access the shed and the locked cabinet.


J.         Lighting material

1.         Offenders must use the provided lighter. 


2.         At the end of each ceremony, the pipe carrier must return the lighter to the staff member observing the ceremony, who secures the lighter in the shed's locked cabinet. 


3.         The religious activities coordinator replaces discharged lighters as needed.


K.        Sweat lodge equipment and necessary materials must be stored in the shed.


REVIEW:      Annually


REFERENCES:        Division Directive 302.300, "Religious Programming"


SUPERSESSION:     Instruction 302.310LL, "Use of Tobacco for American Indian Ceremonies," 4/15/14.

All facility policies, memos, or other communications whether verbal, written, or transmitted by electronic means regarding this topic.





Warden, MCF - LL