Coronavirus infection in state prisons more than two times statewide rate

April 10th, 2020

Advocates renew call for inmate releases

By Sarah Betancourt
April 10, 2020
Commonwealth Magazine

THE CORONAVIRUS INFECTION rate among inmates in the state prison is more than two times than the statewide rate, according to new figures from the Department of Correction.  

Prisoners’ Legal Services sent out an analysis on Friday analyzing the rate of infection among the 64 prisoners out of 7,841 Department of Correction inmates who have contracted the virus, finding a rate of 0.82 percent. That is more than two-and-half times the statewide rate of 0.3 percent.

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Coronavirus Cases More Than Double Overnight At Essex County Jail

April 9th, 2020

Christine Willmsen
April 9, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases at the Essex County jail more than doubled overnight, after advocates and inmates complained the sheriff hasn’t done enough to stop the spread of virus.

Thursday, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department reported 13 inmates, three guards and one contractor have tested positive for the coronavirus. On Wednesday, the total was eight.

“It’s just a human petri dish,” said inmate Daniel Mahoney, 35, of Quincy, in an interview with WBUR. He’s awaiting trial and detained in a dormitory room with 30 other men at the Essex jail.

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Coronavirus Infection Rates

April 8th, 2020

Posted: April 10, 2020; based upon April 10, 2020 reported cases

The positive cases in Massachusetts increased today, including a sharp rise in cases at MCI-Framingham:

Posted: April 8, 2020; based upon April 7, 2020 reported cases

These are alarming trends in infection rates comparing the rates of spread of COVID-19 in the general population of Massachusetts with Massachusetts prisons among both prisoners and corrections officers.* Many lives are at immediate risk. Right now, the known infection rate (although we have dozens of reports of sick prisoners and officers who have not been tested) of prisoners in the MA DOC is higher than the infection rate in the hardest-hit region of Italy – Lombardy.

The infection rate in the general population of Massachusetts (that we are aware of) is about 0.22%, while in state prisoners it is reported to be about 2.6 times higher (0.57%) than for all people in Massachusetts (and a staggering 5.8% at the Massachusetts Treatment Center – more than 26 times the general population.) The rate is about 1.5 times higher (0.33%) for DOC employees than the general population, not including prison medical staff. If we look at the track of institutions in NYC and Chicago, we know that this number will rise without immediate, decisive action. The increased rate of infection for correctional officers puts their families and communities at greater risk.

*based upon most recent publicly available MA census data, DOC weekly population counts, and a DOC employee count of 5,200.

Third inmate from Bridgewater treatment center dies from COVID-19

April 4th, 2020

By Breanne Kovatch
April 4, 2020
The Boston Globe

A third inmate from the Massachusetts Treatment Center died Saturday while he was being treated for the novel coronavirus at a hospital, state prison officials said.

The inmate, a man in his 60s, had been incarcerated since last year and had underlying health conditions, the state Department of Correction said in statement.

His identity was not released.

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SJC recommends release of prisoners awaiting trial as corrections system grapples with COVID-19

April 4th, 2020

By Trevor Hass
April 4, 2020

Prisoners awaiting trial in Massachusetts should be released as a result of COVID-19, unless prosecutors can prove they present an “unreasonable” danger to the community or flight risk, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Friday.

This came after the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed an emergency petition before the state Supreme Judicial Court. The report noted that correctional facilities can be “petri dishes,” largely because physical distancing and vigilant hygiene are impossible.

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