Advocates push to release Massachusetts inmates into house arrest amid coronavirus outbreak
Massachusetts prisoner advocates are stepping up legal efforts to free inmates from state prisons due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Massachusetts Prisoners’ Legal Services argued in a Suffolk Superior Court filing Thursday that the state’s Corrections Department should release inmates on house arrest, on leave, on medical parole and others. legal measures so that the remaining detainees can safely distance themselves socially behind bars.
The organization submitted testimonies from about 40 inmates about overcrowded conditions in state prisons and their fears of contracting COVID-19 to bolster their appeal.
Prisoners’ Legal Services also said that four prisons – MCI-Norfolk, MCI-Shirley, NCCI Gardner and MCI Concord – accounted for almost all of the more than 1,000 new cases of the virus in the correctional system since October 29.
“Failure to create the ability to gain distance within prison walls has resulted in uncontrolled epidemics, mass illness and preventable death,” Elizabeth Matos, executive director of the organization, said Thursday. , in a press release.
The State Department of Corrections declined to comment on the ongoing litigation, but noted that its prison population had declined by more than 1,200 since March and its facilities were at 61 percent of capacity.