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April 6, 2020

Rep. Pressley’s Statement on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Ruling on the Eligibility for Release of Some Incarcerated Individuals to Halt the Spread of COVID-19

WASHINGTON – Today, in response to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that some incarcerated individuals in state jails and prisons may be released in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) released the following statement:

“As we fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth and around the country, we must address the urgent need to protect the individuals in local and state custody, as well as the staff who work in our prison system.  While we navigate our way through this unprecedented pandemic, we must remember that our freedoms and destinies are tied. Friday’s ruling by the Massachusetts Superior Judicial Court to release individuals held pre-trial for non-violent offenses is a step towards allowing our most vulnerable to safely return home and avoid exposure to the virus.  I am proud of the leadership of Suffolk County District Attorney Rollins for her steadfast commitment to safe decarceration in the midst of this pandemic. I implore more of our public officials to do the same in the name of public health and public safety. Urgent further action is required.

“Further delays in decarceration will quite literally be the difference between life and death. Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in our state facilities, and an uneven ability to provide adequate medical care, have long made prisons and jails a petri dish for infectious diseases. Last week, I spoke with Secretary Turco and urged him to put forward a legitimate plan to safely and expeditiously decarcerate with a focus on people who particularly vulnerable. Let me be clear, the Administration can act unilaterally to save lives. We must center the humanity of everyone impacted by this outbreak and my office will continue to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of our constituents and their loved ones. I will support any sincere effort by the Baker administration to keep the most vulnerable among us healthy and safe, including those behind the wall. Massachusetts has an opportunity to lead and model what it looks like to meet the challenges of this pandemic with an approach that centers dignity and justice.”