First County Jail Inmate Dies Of COVID Complications


By Jenifer McKim
April 30, 2020

A prisoner in the Middleton House of Correction become Massachusetts’ first county jail inmate to die of COVID-related causes, heightening concerns among advocates that not enough is being done to reduce incarcerated populations, test inmates or prevent the spread in the state penal system.

Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger said Thursday that the 41-year-old prisoner died Wednesday, was one of 60 in his facilities to have tested positive for the virus. The prisoner — whose name was not released — had other health issues and had been incarcerated in the jail since Feb. 18, county officials said.

Elizabeth Matos, executive director of the prisoners’ advocacy group, says until government officials reduce inmate numbers the state will see increased infections behind bars.

“The reality is that many of these jails are overcrowded, they rely on dorm settings, and as long as we have this many people in jails and prisons we will continue to see the virus spread,’’ Matos said.

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