More Than 150 Positive COVID-19 Cases Reported Among Prisoners, Staff Inside Mass. Jails And Prisons

April 15th, 2020

By Deborah Becker
April 15, 2020
WBUR

The coronavirus appears to be spreading quickly in Massachusetts jails and prisons, with more than 150 positive cases reported among prisoners and staff.

The hardest hit facility has been the Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC) in Bridgewater, where four prisoners have died from COVID-19. They’re the only prisoner deaths reported in the state.

Several people with incarcerated loved ones said it’s impossible for people in custody to stay 6 feet away from each other as social distancing guidelines recommend. And like on the outside, they said there is little testing. A report from the state Supreme Judicial court backs that up. The report said jails and prisons administered about 500 tests of prisoners and staff in the past week.

Lizz Matos, executive director of Boston-based Prisoners’ Legal Services, said that’s not enough. She pointed out there are almost 15,000 people incarcerated and thousands of correctional employees, and the SJC report showed that in some county jails there has been no testing.

“You have a number of counties reporting zero tests, so we have no way of knowing who is walking around COVID positive and possibly transmitting the virus to others,” Matos said.

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