Below is a press release from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:
BILLERICA, MA — Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced the population currently under supervision has dropped to below 600 individuals – a nearly 25 percent drop since mid-March.
“On March 12, we had 787 people either sentenced or awaiting trial,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “Today, we have 594. This is a result of multiple processes we began back in early March to reduce our population in a safe and precise manner. We have taken action – by tripling the number of individuals on electronic monitoring and by collaborating with District Attorney Marian Ryan to conduct bail reviews – to balance the public safety and public health needs of this unique moment.”
The drop in population has also been aided by a decline in new arrestees, scheduled releases for sentenced individuals, and the recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling allowing pretrial individuals being held on certain charges to have their bail revisited.
As a result of this decline, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has also announced the temporary closure of a fourth dormitory-style housing unit. On April 10 – following an initial 15 percent reduction in population – the MSO announced the temporary closure of three dormitory-style units.
The drop in population and closure of the dorms, combined with other steps modifying movement within the facility has allowed for an enhancement of social distancing practices within the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.
These are in addition to the numerous steps, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has taken to mitigate and respond to COVID-19 since early March, including:
- Routine consultation with internal and external medical professionals including an infectious diseases specialist.
- The implementation of new screening procedures for individuals being sent to the facility.
- All staff working inside the facility are required to wear masks for the duration of their shifts. Incarcerated individuals residing in cells to wear them when outside their cells. Those individuals residing in the dorm, must wear a mask at all times.
- Symptomatic staff are being told to remain at home and contact their primary care physician (PCP). Any symptomatic staff must be cleared by their medical provider and provide documentation to Human Resources before returning to work.
- Staff members are administered temperature checks at the beginning of their shifts.
- All incarcerated individuals have access to four free phone calls of up to 20 minutes each, every week.
- Designated our Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator Lili Bonilla as the central point of contact for families with specific questions or concerns about their loved ones. Lili can be reached at 978-932-3517 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals or families with urgent concerns outside of normal business hours should contact 978-667-1711 ext. 0.
- Vigorously enhanced cleaning of facilities and availability of cleaning products.
- 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.
“The decisions we are making and the steps we are taking are focused on ensuring the safety of those in our custody, our staff and the communities we serve,” said Koutoujian. “We will not waiver from our commitment to meeting those objectives.”
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