MASSACHUSETTS COVID-19 DECARCERATION BILL COULD PROTECT US ALL
March 21, 2020
By Jean Trounstine
On Friday, March 20, Massachusetts state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa filed An Act regarding Decarceration and COVID-19, emergency legislation addressing the potential coronavirus contamination behind bars.
The day before, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins called for review and release of those who pose no risk to the public, and several sheriffs and prosecutors joined her call for action. While there have been few reported coronavirus cases in Massachusetts prisons or jails, activists across the state have written a number of notices, letters and op-eds, and joined with nationwide coalitions, calling for the governor to use his powers to upend the crisis that could unfold in our prisons and jails.
There are approximately 17,000 people in our prisons and jails as of March 16, 2020, according to the DOC. Elizabeth Matos, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services, said among them, the elderly prison population is defined as over 50; as of January 2019, there were 2,500 people over 50 years old in our prisons, many with low-level sentences or awaiting trial.