ST. PAUL (AP) -- A record number of Minnesota prison inmates were placed in solitary confinement last year.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections placed inmates in solitary more than 8,000 times in 2018. The number of solitary sentences has been going up steadily for the last two years.

Last session, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law requiring mental health screening for inmates being placed in solitary.

Republican Rep. Nick Zerwas of Elk River, one of the sponsors, says he's concerned about the numbers.

In June, the Corrections Department implemented new regulations that increase the maximum time allowed in solitary from 90 days to a year.

Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell says that ultimately, the department wants to provide incentives to help people get back into the general prison population.