Action urged on COVID outbreak at Norfolk state prison and other jails


Nov 10, 2020
The Sun Chronicle
By David Linton

NORFOLK — A Boston congresswoman and district attorney are calling for the release of some inmates from MCI-Norfolk and other state prisons, citing an outbreak of the coronavirus.

Currently, 172 inmates at MCI-Norfolk, a medium security state prison with about 1,200 inmates, have COVID-19, according to the state Department of Correction.

There are 38 detainees at the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center in Plymouth who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 159 prisoners and 37 staff at the Essex County Jail were infected, according to the non-profit group Prisoners’ Legal Service of Massachusetts.

Last week, the group filed a lawsuit seeking the release of sick inmates and others with medical issues that make them at risk of being infected in prison.

MCI-Norfolk has the oldest and most medically vulnerable prison population in the state, they said.

Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins joined prisoner advocates and family members at a press conference at the Statehouse to call for action on the COVID outbreak at MCI-Norfolk and other prisons.

“Public health experts have been demanding the release of prisoners, who cannot socially distance or otherwise protect themselves, since the onset of the pandemic in March,” Pressley’s office said in a statement.

In a letter Tuesday, Pressley urged Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to take swift action to protect the lives of incarcerated individuals.

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