UPDATED, May 4: Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian has 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,” Koutoujian said in a May 4 news release. “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 state 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 office 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.
The office has also implemented the following steps:
- Symptomatic staff are being told to remain at home and contact their primary care physician. Any symptomatic staff must be cleared by their medical provider and provide documentation to Human Resources before returning to work.
- Provided thermometers, germicidal cloths and gloves for staff to conduct self-temperature checks. Staff have the ability to check their temperatures on their way in, during the shift and before they return home.
- Doubled the number of individuals placed in Electronic Monitoring Program since March 20. Ninety percent of the new individuals from the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction are age 55 and over. Also added since March 20, was one female from MCI-Framingham.
- Eighty pretrial individuals identified by the sheriff, the DA and defense attorneys had their bail reduced after review by the DA and courts as of this past Monday. Forty-eigh (48) of those individuals had already been confirmed to have been released from the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction as of Monday. The total number released does not include women held at MCI-Framingham or men held in other jurisdictions.
- Offering four free phone calls of up to 20 minutes each for incarcerated individuals every week beginning on March 13.
ma.us. 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.
In a statement April 7, Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian said the steps taken by his office and its colleagues predated the recent ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court in the case filed by the Committee for Public Counsel Services (SJC-12926) seeking to have individuals released from custody.
“Since mid-March, we have worked aggressively, both independently and with our public safety colleagues, to evaluate those in our custody for potential release. We have placed more sentenced individuals into the Electronic Monitoring Program (EMP), collaborated with District Attorney Marian Ryan and the judiciary to review individuals being held on bail, and made every effort to ensure court and medical appointments for our incarcerated population are being kept,” Koutoujian said.
“In fact, our staff made nearly 400 video and phone conferences for court appointments in just under three weeks. We are ensuring that our responsibility as a law enforcement agency – to both provide safety for the community and access to justice for those in our custody – is continuing to be met during this crisis.”
Evaluations for all forms of release – including EMP – have included an emphasis on elderly individuals and those with chronic health conditions as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This news announcement was published Tuesday, April 7, 2020, and updated May 4.
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