Mici: No need to release inmates due to COVID-19

April 29th, 2020

By Sarah Betancourt
April 29, 2020
Commonwealth Magazine

Says prisoners need to do their part in avoiding infection

THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION’S top prison official told a state judge on Wednesday that she is satisfied with the way the system is responding to COVID-19 cases and sees no need to release inmates convicted of serious crimes to house arrest.

Carol Mici, the commissioner of the Department of Correction, appeared virtually before Superior Court Judge Robert Ullmann, who is gathering information for the Supreme Judicial Court in a case where inmates are seeking their release to house arrest to reduce their exposure to COVID-19. The SJC previously authorized the release of 800 prisoners awaiting trial, but this proceeding is dealing with inmates actually convicted of crimes.

Mici said the state’s 16 correctional facilities are regularly cleaned and that staff and medical vendors are all required to wear masks. Asked about reports of DOC staff not wearing masks, she said one correctional officer was penalized “with a five-day suspension for not wearing a mask on his unit.”

Under questioning from Jim Pingeon, an attorney from Prisoners’ Legal Services, which brought the case, Mici said some inmates who test positive are sent to single cells in the same unit as prisoners without the disease. She said the infected inmates would share showers and bathrooms with non-infected inmates, but those facilities are cleaned regularly.

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