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Suffolk County District Attorney Interested In Getting Some Prisoners Released Because of Coronavirus

March 19, 2020

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is looking to identify certain convicts in prison to release because of their vulnerability to coronavirus.

“In these uncertain times, where the landscape is changing minute by minute, District Attorney Rollins is working to make sure that individuals held in custody who are vulnerable because of their health, age, socio-economic status, or circumstances, but pose no meaningful risk to public safety are released from custody,” the Suffolk County district attorney’s office said in a written statement Thursday, March 19.

Some prisoners won’t qualify for release because of the risk to public safety, Rollins’s office said, but the statement highlights the problem prisoners are facing.

“While Americans across the country are being encouraged to self-isolate, members of our incarcerated population are, by definition, doing the exact opposite with no alternative options.  We need to seriously consider pathways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for our incarcerated populations, the overwhelming majority of which will return to our communities at some point in the future,” Rollins’s office said in the written statement.

Suffolk County includes the city of Boston.

In Essex County, which covers northeastern Massachusetts, the district attorney is less concerned about prisoners’ health, after being assured by the sheriff that jail staff members are cleaning diligently and taking other precautions, according to the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune.

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett is considering two requests for release, including one from a man convicted in 2007 of raping a 12-year-old boy. The man’s lawyers say his existing health problems make him especially vulnerable to the virus, according to the Eagle-Tribune.

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