Coronavirus and prison: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court expected to rule soon on releasing inmates vulnerable to COVID-19

April 1st, 2020

By Michael Bonner
April 1, 2020
MassLive

For more than four hours on Tuesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments regarding an emergency petition filed last week that’s aimed at reducing the number of incarcerated people in jails and prisons across the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Mass. High Court Considers Releasing Some Prisoners To Prevent COVID-19 Outbreak

April 1st, 2020

By Deb Becker
April 1, 2020
WBUR

Should Massachusetts release some prisoners to stem the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons?

That question is now before the state’s highest court. And it’s a question that’s highlighting some deep divisions — even among state law enforcement agencies.

The state Supreme Judicial Court held a telephone hearing Tuesday on an emergency petition asking that some categories of prisoners be reviewed for potential release. The petition argues that releasing some of the more than 16,000 people incarcerated in the state will help keep people separated in jails and prisons and could prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.

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Arguments At SJC Tuesday Over Petition To Reduce Prison Populations Due To Pandemic

March 30th, 2020

By Jenifer McKim
March 30, 2020
WGBH

The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday morning is scheduled to hear oral arguments related to an emergency petition to reduce the state’s population of incarcerated people as a growing number of inmates test positive for COVID-19.

Prisoner advocates, state officials and law enforcement are slated to speak in the virtual hearing addressing the petition filed last week by the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

The hearing comes as the number of inmates infected by COVID-19 increases in Massachusetts. The state Department of Correction said Monday there were 21 confirmed cases of the virus among inmates and staff at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, which houses male sex offenders, an increase of 14 on Friday.

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A cry for help from inmates caught in a coronavirus outbreak in Bridgewater

March 27th, 2020

By Andrea Estes and Vernal Coleman
March 27, 2020
Boston Globe

Fourteen inmates and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, but inmates say they have no way to protect themselves

He lives at the center of a coronavirus outbreak, one of the worst in Massachusetts.

But Glenn Christie doesn’t have the option of going into self-quarantine or even staying six feet away from other people. He’s under lockdown at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater in a 10-by-20 foot room with five other inmates who share communal toilets and showers.

And he’s getting scared, especially since one of his roommates was taken away with a fever and cough a few days ago, according to his lawyer. Ten inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 in little more than a week, along with four staff members.

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Inside One Jail’s Health Care Problems And ‘Culture Of Impunity’

March 26th, 2020

Part 3 of “Dying on the Sheriff’s Watch”

By Christine Willmsen and Beth Healy
March 26, 2020
WBUR

Broken Back, Broken Nose And 15 Stitches

In July of 2012, Andrew Nascarella lay in a pool of his own blood at Essex’s Middleton House of Correction, after a guard punched him in the face.

Nascarella, a 28-year-old construction worker with a history of mental illness and serving time for larceny, was being held in the jail’s segregation unit.

At one point, he refused an order to return to his cell, because he wanted to see a supervisor. Corrections officer Travis Mustone walked across the unit to confront Nascarella. Suddenly, Mustone grabbed the handcuffed inmate from behind and hurled him to the ground, according to court records and surveillance video provided to WBUR by Nascarella’s lawyer.

“This incident resulted from a pattern and a culture of violence at the facility,” White said, and “a culture of impunity that resulted from failures in supervision and investigation.”

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