As Coronavirus Spreads, Mass. Jails Move to Protect Inmates


March 13, 2020
NBC 10
By Ally Donnelly and Jim Haddadin

Massachusetts correctional facilities are taking extra steps to keep inmates and staff healthy inside as the novel coronavirus spreads outside.

The state Department of Correction suspended visits this week from family and friends of inmates housed at its 16 prisons, and some county jails are following suit.

To date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the new virus — reported among the state’s inmate population.

Prisoner advocate Lizz Matos says hundreds of people move through correctional facilities in Massachusetts every day. And the state has one of the highest populations of elderly inmates — a group most at risk from coronavirus.

Matos worries that inmates at some facilities lack ready access to soap and hand sanitizer, which is typically banned because it contains alcohol.

“I’m fearful for my clients … because I know how ill some of them are, and I worry many of them could die,” she said.

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