Pressley Calls On Baker To Release Incarcerated People Amid COVID Outbreak


Nov 10, 2020
By Phillip Martin and Jenifer B. McKim

Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Tuesday called on Gov. Charlie Baker to release inmates from state jails and prisons struggling with a recent outbreakof COVID-19.

“The governor alone, with the stroke of a pen, has the power to pardon or commute the sentences of thousands of medically vulnerable people behind the wall and to reunite them with their families, drastically reducing the population and crowding of our prisons and jails and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in these facilities,” Pressley said. “Now is not the time for half measures of virtue signaling.”

Pressley was joined at a press conference outside the State House by Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, State Sen. Becca Rausch, Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, Dr. Monik Jiménez of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Elizabeth Matos of Prisoners’ Legal Services. They are seeking the “decarceration” of hundreds of inmates who they say, “cannot socially distance or otherwise protect themselves.”

The Department of Corrections said Tuesday that 172 prisoners at MassachusettsCorrectional Institution in Norfolk have tested positive for the coronavirus — up from 140 people on Monday. Three people are now being cared for at nearby hospitals. Other institutions have experienced similar spikes in infection, including 137 prisoners at the Middleton Jail and House of Correction.

The governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Criminal defense attorney Lisa Newman-Polk said she is concerned about the health of a client at MCI-Norfolk who has health issues that make him susceptible to the disease.

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