SJC orders release for some pretrial detainees; other prisoners to remain in jail

April 4th, 2020

April 4, 2020
WCVB

The Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that pretrial detainees not being held without bail and awaiting trial on an offense not considered violent or serious are entitled to be released into the community on his or her own recognizance amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a case brought by criminal defense lawyers seeking the release or parole of inmates at high risk of COVID-19 infection.

Coronavirus in Massachusetts: 8 Billerica jail employees test positive for COVID-19

April 3rd, 2020

By Jackson Cote
April 3, 2020
MassLive

Eight employees at a Billerica jail have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced Thursday.

Seven staff members working at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction were diagnosed with COVID-19. Another employee who works in a position located outside the facility also tested positive, according to a statement from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.

Inmate at Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater dies from coronavirus

April 3rd, 2020

By Jeremy Fox
April 2, 2020
Boston Globe

An inmate at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater died Thursday while hospitalized for the novel coronavirus, the Massachusetts Department of Correction said Thursday night.

The inmate was a man in his 50s who had underlying health conditions, the department said in a statement. He had been quarantined immediately after he began showing symptoms and was taken to a hospital as his condition worsened, according to the department.

A test confirmed his COVID-19 infection, and he remained at the hospital for 10 days as his condition worsened, the department said.

Prisoners Legal Services of Massachusetts, a non-profit that advocates for the rights of the incarcerated, said in a statement Thursday night that its staff was “very distressed” to learn of the death, which it described as the first death of an incarcerated person in Massachusetts from COVID-19.

“We very much hope that his death and the current suffering of all the other prisoners, correctional officers, and medical staff struggling with COVID-19 in the Commonwealth today propel swift and meaningful action to release people who can safely live in their communities,” the organization said. “Such action must happen as immediately as possible to be effective and to minimize future deaths.”

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Coronavirus: Inmate with COVID-19 dies at Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater

April 2nd, 2020

By Steph Solis
April 2, 2020
MassLive

A man in his 50s who was incarcerated at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater has died after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the state Department of Correction.

Prisoners rights advocates and some public officials have raised concerns about the likelihood of spread when incarcerated people are held in close quarters and have communal eating areas and toilets. Sheriffs in Bristol and Plymouth counties, however, said they have the resources to keep inmates safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Coronavirus Infections Continue To Rise In Massachusetts Prisons

April 2nd, 2020

By Jenifer McKim
April 2, 2020
WGBH

The number of prison inmates and staff infected with COVID-19 is continuing to rise, jumping from 28 on Wednesday to 34 on Thursday, according to the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

The rise in confirmed cases comes as defense attorneys, prosecutors and prisoners advocates await word from the Supreme Judicial Court, which is considering an emergency petition to release some inmates who don’t pose a risk to public safety to reduce the prison population and prevent the spread of the virus.

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