Below is a press release from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:
BILLERICA, MA — As we address the evolving challenges of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to share information regarding the critical steps we are taking to manage the health and safety of all those held at, working in and visiting the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.
- As of 3 p.m. today, all non-attorney visits were suspended pending further notice. The decision to suspend visits was made based on current information available to the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.
- In an effort to alleviate disruptions with visits, starting on Saturday, March 14, 2020 – and lasting until further notice – incarcerated individuals will be offered two (2) free calls per week with a maximum call time of fifteen (15) minutes per calls. This is a first interim step as we work towards offering more calling opportunities. We are also aggressively exploring additional possible means of communication including video visitation and electronic messaging.
- In consultation with internal and external medical professionals, we have expanded the panel of questions we pose to those committed to our custody. These questions – which have been in place since March 4 – were added to our existing medical intake in an effort to identify individuals who may have symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have come in contact with those with lab confirmed cases. We have also implemented corresponding protocols should cases of concern arise, including notification and coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
- We are also strongly encouraging attorneys wishing to meet with clients at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction to consider utilizing non-contact space. Staff will be able to direct attorneys to the appropriate locations.
- We have worked with the courts and other key stakeholders to expand the use of video conferencing for judicial appearances. This will significantly decrease travel outside the facility for officers and incarcerated individuals.
- Programming (including religious services) provided by MSO staff and contractors will continue, however volunteer services will be temporarily suspended through March 22. This pause is intended to ensure that core services remain active while we evaluate future steps.
- Additionally, we are encouraging individuals inside the facility to continue to follow CDC recommended steps for preventing the spread of the virus. This includes frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- We have also vigorously enhanced our efforts to clean and sanitize all MSO facilities and have increased the availability of necessary protective equipment and sanitizing products.
“As this situation evolves, we remain committed to working closely with our governmental and non-governmental partners to make certain our processes and protocols remain sound,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “The health and safety of our employees, incarcerated individuals and visitors is of paramount importance.”
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