DOC moving slowly on home confinement releases


Jan 29, 2021
CommonWealth Magazine
By Sarah Betancourt

THE LEGISLATURE a month ago gave the Department of Correction broader authority to release prisoners amid the pandemic, but so far the agency has taken little action.

The legislation, passed via an override of a veto by Gov. Charlie Baker, notes that DOC Commissioner Carol Mici must “release, transition to home confinement, or furlough individuals in the care and custody of the department who can be safely released, transitioned to home confinement, or furloughed with prioritization given to populations most vulnerable to serious medical outcomes associated with COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.”

Prisoners’ Legal Services is suing the agency on behalf of 11 prisoners, saying Mici is not complying with the law. The DOC and the Parole Board, which manages aspects of the home confinement program, take the opposite stance.

Mici noted in an affidavit last week that the DOC plans to release around 25 prisoners to home confinement with electronic ankle monitors on or after February 7. Those releases, however, only impact minimum security prisoners. What has been delayed repeatedly is a decision over what will happen to prisoners at medium and maximum security prisons, where COVID-19 cases have been more prevalent.  

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