BILLERICA — Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced today, April 7, the population being held at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction has dropped by over 100 individuals in less than four weeks to 681 as a result of direct actions taken by the MSO, the district attorney, local law enforcement and the courts, in combination with the completion of sentences.
The drop represents a 15 percent decline in population.
The steps taken by the MSO and its colleagues predated the recent ruling by the Massachusetts 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,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.
“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,’ said the Sherff.
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 (CDC).
These processes have led to:
- A doubling of individuals placed on EMP since March 20, bringing the number to 16. Ninety (90) percent of the new individuals are age 55+.
- Eighty (80) pretrial individuals identified by the MSO, the DA and defense attorneys having their bail reduced after review by the DA and courts. Forty-eight (48) have already been confirmed to have been released from the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction. The total number released does not include women held at MCI-Framingham or men held in other jurisdictions.
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is continuing to review additional sentenced individuals for potential EMP placement.
In cases where the Sheriff’s office does not have the authority to act alone, the Sheriff and staff are working with prosecutors and families to determine whether anyone in Sheriff’s office custody could have their sentences reviewed by the judiciary.
These efforts build on prior steps taken by the Sheriff’s office to safely reduce its facility population.
A total of 19 individuals were also released when the Sheriff’s office and Mass Bail Fund worked together to identify individuals held on low cash bails.
Another 41 people completed their court-imposed sentences since March 11 and have been released.
The MSO has also maintained contact with its local law enforcement partners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
With some police departments issuing summons for nonviolent crimes, and courts delaying trials, new admissions into the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction have declined.
Sheriff Koutoujian also designated Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator Lili Bonilla as a central point of contact for families with questions regarding loved ones currently in custody. She can assist families with questions regarding the Electronic Monitoring Program (EMP) for sentenced individuals. She can be reached during regular business hours 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.
“Ensuring the well-being of all those who live in and work at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction is of paramount importance to myself and my staff. By developing specialized processes for release throughout our population, we are keeping both the public safety and public health of our communities at the forefront,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.
“The steps we have taken will benefit both those we release and those who remain with us as we work on ways that this population decline can help us maintain social distancing standards inside the facility. As we have since the beginning of this crisis, we will continue to work with our security staff, our infectious disease specialist, and external as well as internal medical professionals to make the best decisions for the health and safety of our population,’ concluded the Sheriff.