MSO COVID-19 Information

July 23, 2020 - 5:00 p.m. (Update #44)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced that three (3) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between July 16 - 23, 2020. 

The MSO today also announced that no staff members tested positive during the same period.

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July 21, 2020 - 5:45 p.m. (Update #43)
Yesterday afternoon, some incarcerated individuals at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction began experiencing gastrointestinal issues. MSO medical staff evaluated all inmates who were experiencing symptoms. One individual was sent to an outside hospital for what was later determined to be a separate illness related to underlying health conditions.

Out of an abundance of caution, MSO officials consulted with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). Both agencies are confident these issues are not related to COVID-19, but rather a foodborne illness. MSO medical providers and medical staff will continue to monitor this situation and address anyone who has symptoms. The MSO is also continuing to employ extensive cleaning and sanitization measures as part of its COVID-19 response, including:

  • Signage throughout the facility reminds staff and incarcerated individuals about proper self-care and hygiene, including regular handwashing and monitoring symptoms.
     
  • As always, incarcerated individuals have continuous access to antibacterial soap and water.
     
  • All MSO facilities undergo regular deep cleaning, and high traffic areas in the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction are cleaned and sanitized multiple times every shift.
     
  • Sterilization supplies – include sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer – are distributed to every housing unit.
     
  • Facility meals are served on Styrofoam trays to reduce transmission risk
    .
  • Videos on preventative care, recorded by an infectious disease specialists, are played on facility televisions for the benefit of incarcerated individuals and staff.

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July 17, 2020 - 8:19 p.m. (Update #42)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced that two (2) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between July 9 - 15, 2020. 

The MSO today also announced that no staff members tested positive during the same period.

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July 8, 2020 - 7:26 p.m. (Update #41)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced seven individuals, including six Work Release and Community Work Program participants residing in a minimum security building, physically separated from the facility’s main housing structure, have tested positive for COVID-19.  All six minimum security cases are currently suspected to be as a result of community-based contacts outside the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.

The seventh individual entered the facility having previously tested positive in the community.

Each of the individuals remains asymptomatic and all seven have been placed in medical isolation to be monitored.  These are the first positive tests involving any incarcerated individuals at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction since mid-May.

“While the incredible efforts of our staff to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 resulted in six straight weeks without a positive test, we were always cognizant the virus could return – most likely as a result of a community contact or through a new arrestee,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian.  “With a constant flow of new admittances – nearly 750 since March 1 – it was never a matter of if we’d see more cases, but when – and we have been prepared to respond immediately.”

On Tuesday morning, the MSO received the initial positive result on a COVID test that had proactively been administered to an individual as part of his preparation for potential parole.  The individual, who participated in the office’s Work Release program, was immediately placed in medical isolation, per protocol, and all non-essential movement in and out the building was temporarily suspended.  In consultation with our infectious diseases expert 28 additional individuals living in the building were tested, with five positive results and 23 negatives.

Individuals participating in Work Release, are eligible to leave the facility to take part in employment activities at community-based jobsites and are monitored by GPS while outside the facility.  Those involved in the Community Work Program take part in both onsite and offsite painting, cleanup, beautification and other projects under the direct supervision of a correction officer.

The MSO has notified employers associated with the Work Release program of the results.

“Working with our infectious diseases specialist we will continue to maintain our high level of vigilance and preparation,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “As we have throughout this pandemic, we remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of all those who live in, work at and visit the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.” 

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July 2, 2020 –  5:00 p.m. (Update #40)
For a fifth straight week, the number of incarcerated individuals testing positive for COVID-19 at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction stands at zero, Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced today.

“Over the past four months, our staff has done an incredible job confronting this unprecedented public health challenge,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “While we have reached an important milestone in our efforts to address COVID-19, we remain vigilant.  The health and safety of our incarcerated population, our staff, and our wider community remain our chief priority.”

During the last five weeks 14 total COVID tests were administered, all of which came back negative.  Of those 14 tests, ten were conducted as precautionary measures including seven of which were for individuals either re-entering the community or being transferred to other jurisdictions.  Four individuals entering the facility from the community were immediately isolated and tested based on medical protocols.

MSO Employees Donate Plasma

Sheriff Koutoujian also announced today that 11 MSO staff members who previously tested positive for COVID-19 – and have recovered – have donated plasma in the hopes of helping individuals who are still battling the virus.

“The men and women of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office are dedicated professionals, committed to serving their communities and helping their fellow citizens,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “These 11 employees decided to create something positive out of their diagnosis, and it is a real testament to their selflessness.  I am incredibly proud of them for their thoughtfulness and desire to help others.”

The plasma of recovered COVID-19 individuals – also known as convalescent plasma – contains numerous proteins developed by that individual’s immune system to overcome the virus.  These antibodies have become the basis of medical interventions for patients with life-threatening diagnoses of COVID-19, as well as research into potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus.

“I’m lucky enough to have fully recovered from COVID-19 on my own,” said Crystal Miske, Program Coordinator for the Medication Assisted Treatment And Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) program.  “With that, and just two hours of my time I could potentially save the lives of three people.  If I have the ability to give back by donating plasma to those who may not be as lucky to recover on their own, it’s a no brainer for me.  If it could save only one person, or buy a family a few more moments or days with their loved one, I’d still do it.  If you can help, you should.”

“Seeing the selflessness of all my colleagues when I was out of work, I felt bad I wasn’t able to be there to help,” said Officer Shawn Ankenbauer.  “I was inspired when I saw the doctors, nurses and others working weekends, nights and holidays to do their parts.  It was great to see everyone coming together and working together.  That’s what made me want to donate – to do my part to help.”

To learn more about plasma donations please visit https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/donate-covid-19-plasma.

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June 23, 2020 –  9:00 p.m. (Update #39)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced that zero (0) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between June 15-22.  There are no individuals presently in medical isolation as result of a positive COVID test.

This marks the fourth consecutive week in which no incarcerated individuals tested positive.

The MSO today also announced that zero (0) staff members tested positive during the same timeframe. This is the fifth consecutive week in which no staff members tested positive.

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June 15, 2020 – 5:00 p.m. (Update #38)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office announced today that zero (0) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between June 8-15, and there are no individuals presently in medical isolation as a result of a positive COVID test.  One individual tested negative in that period. 

This marks the third consecutive week in which no incarcerated individuals tested positive.

The MSO today also announced that no staff members tested positive during the same timeframe. This is the fourth consecutive week in which no staff members tested positive.

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June 10, 2020 – 9:25 a.m. (Update #37)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced the Civil Process Division has reopened for limited services, though walk-in assistance remains suspended.

Attorneys and other members of the public may call the office at 617-547-1171 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday – Friday for assistance. 

Until further notice, Civil Process staff will be serving:

  • All summons and complaints
  • Subpoenas
  • Probate services
  • Restraining orders and emergency orders issued by the courts

Staff will also be recording:

  • Writs of attachments & levies on real estate

Civil Process staff will not be carrying out:

  • Voluntary capias hearings or physical arrests
  • Evictions (unless issued by the court on an emergency basis)
  • Seizures on execution
  • Notices to quit
  • Orders of Notice for foreclosure
  • Utility shut offs

All documents may either be faxed to 617-868-7244 or mailed to Middlesex Sheriff’s Civil Process Division, 400 Mystic Ave., 3rd Floor, Medford, MA 02155.  All documents must be accompanied by the corresponding Drop Off Sheets which can be found at middlesexsheriff.org/civil.

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June 8, 2020 – 5:40 p.m. (Update #36)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office announced today that zero (0) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between June 1-8, and there are no individuals presently in medical isolation as a result of a positive COVID test.

This is the second consecutive week in which no incarcerated individuals tested positive.  Two (2) individuals tested negative between June 1-8.

“While I am proud to report we currently have no positive cases, we will remain diligent in our efforts,” said Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian in a press release last week.  “As individuals who have been arrested are processed into the facility from the community, we expect to see new cases arise, however with our existing protocols and processes we are prepared to handle them.”

The MSO today also announced that zero (0) staff members tested positive during the same timeframe.  This is the third consecutive week in which no staff members tested positive.

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June 4, 2020 – 7:00 (Update #35)
Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian has announced the number of COVID-positive individuals being held at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction now stands at zero, as the total custodial population has reached a new record low.

As of today, 562 individuals are in custody, down nearly 30 percent from 788 on March 7.

“I want to commend our entire staff – from the medical professionals and line officers to administrators and support staff – for their incredible work in responding to this pandemic,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “From the outset, their professionalism and meticulous efforts in the face of this international public health challenge have been nothing short of incredible.”

The sheriff also noted the cooperation of individuals in custody who are overwhelmingly complying with measures put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID, including medically recommended limitations placed on movement for the past several weeks and the requirement to wear masks in common areas.

“While I am proud to report we currently have no positive cases, we will remain diligent in our efforts,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “As arrestees are processed into the facility from the community, we expect to see new cases arise, however with our existing protocols and processes we are prepared to handle them.”

To date, four people have either entered the facility COVID-positive or tested positive upon admission.

This is the first time the incarcerated population has had zero positives since the initial case was confirmed on March 27.  In total, 41 incarcerated individuals were reported as positive with 40 having recovered and one (1) having been released prior to having completed his medical isolation period.

The decline in population – achieved as a result of collaborative efforts between the MSO, District Attorney Marian Ryan and the judiciary – allowed the office to implement steps to enhance social distancing efforts including the closure of multiple dormitory-style housing units.  Decisions by local law enforcement to increase their use of summons for certain offenses also led to a decline in the number of people entering the facility throughout the pandemic.

In addition to these steps, the MSO undertook a number of other steps to mitigate the impact of COVID including:

  • Enhanced focus on transparency in communication to employees, incarcerated individuals and the public.  We provided routine updates to staff regarding COVID cases and precautions.  We also provided regular updates to incarcerated individuals regarding changes and had video messages from Sheriff Koutoujian as well as our infectious diseases specialist.  Additionally, in the interest of transparency, we established a dedicated webpage (middlesexsheriff.org/covid19) for the public and families of those incarcerated at the Middlesex jail & House of Correction to find information regarding COVID19’s impact and our response.
  • Daily 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 must wear them when outside their cells.  Those individuals residing in a dorm, must wear a mask at all times.
  • Staff members are administered temperature checks at the beginning of their shifts. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Enhanced the use of video and telephonic technology to facilitate court hearings.  More than 1,000 hearings have been held since mid-March.
  • Designated our Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator as the central point of contact for families with specific questions or concerns about their loved ones.  Individuals or families with urgent concerns outside of normal business hours should contact 978-667-1711 ext. 0.
  • All incarcerated individuals have access to four free phone calls of up to 20 minutes each, every week.

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June 1, 2020 – 7:05 p.m. (Update #34)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has announced that zero (0) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between May 26-June 1, while five (5) individuals tested negative.  

As of June 1, 2020, the total number of individuals being monitored in response to positive test results stood at two (2).

In addition, the MSO announced zero (0) staff members tested positive during the same time period.

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May 27, 2020 - 10:03 a.m. (Update #33)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has announced that two (2) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between May 18-25, while three (3) individuals tested negative.  

As of May 25, 2020, the total number of individuals being monitored in response to positive test results stood at three (3).

In addition, the MSO announced zero staff members tested positive during the same time period.

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May 18, 2020 - 8:56 p.m. (Update #32)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has announced that one (1) incarcerated individual tested positive for COVID-19 between May 11-18 , while eight (8) individuals tested negative.  The one individual who tested positive was a new commitment.  This individual was identified at intake and immediately placed into medical isolation.

As of May 18, the total number of individuals being monitored in response to positive test results stood at three (3).

In addition, the MSO announced a total of one (1) staff member tested positive, while four (4) staff members returned to work during the same time period.

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May 14, 2020 – 6:20 p.m. (Update #31)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced an extension of the temporary suspension of certain services through May 31, 2020.

This extension encompasses all MSO locations, except for the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.  The suspension of operations includes the civil process office and counseling center.

Payroll, human resources, purchasing, accounting, legal and executive staff functions will continue to operate as normal and personnel assigned to those departments will work remotely.

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May 12, 2020 - 9:44 a.m. (Update #30)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has announced one (1) incarcerated individual tested positive for COVID-19 between May 4-11, while seven (7) individuals tested negative.  As of May 11, the total number of individuals being monitored in response to positive test results stood at two (2).

Thirty-three (33) individuals who had previously tested positive have recovered.  All individuals have completed their medical isolation period and are following our COVID-19 stepdown procedure.

In addition, the MSO announced a total of one (1) staff members tested positive, while 10 staff members returned to work during the same time period.

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May 5, 2020 – 5:37 p.m. (Update #29)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has announced two (2) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between April 27 – May 3, while six other individuals tested negative.  As of May 4, the total number of individuals being monitored for test results stood at eight (8).

Twenty-seven (27) individuals who had previously tested positive have recovered.  All individuals have completed their medical isolation period and are following our COVID-19 stepdown procedure.

In addition, the MSO announced a total of one (1) staff member tested positive, while 12 staff members returned to work during the same time period.

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May 4, 2020 – 9:23 a.m. (Update #28)
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 [email protected].  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.”

 

April 30, 2020 – 3:13 p.m. (Update #27)
In accordance with Governor Baker’s updated order regarding essential services, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office will be continuing the temporary suspension of certain services until Monday, May 18, 2020.

All MSO locations – except for the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction – have temporarily suspended operations.  The suspension of operations includes the executive and civil process offices, as well as the counseling center.

Designated essential personnel working at the effected locations are continuing to work remotely in order to provide support services.

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April 27, 2020 – 9:37 p.m. (Update #26)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has announced five (5) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 since last Monday (April 20).  The results bring the total number of individuals who were currently being monitored as a result of positive tests to 21 as of April 27.

Twelve (12) individuals who previously tested positive have recovered, cleared medical isolation and moved into a stepdown process as of April 27.

In addition, the MSO announced a total of six (6) staff members tested positive during the same time period.  Twenty-seven (27) staff members who had tested positive have now returned to work.

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April 23, 2020 – 7:47 p.m. (Update #25)
With the season of Ramadan upon us, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is ensuring the spiritual needs of those of the Muslim faith currently incarcerated at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction are being addressed.

The MSO chaplaincy team has been working to ensure that individuals of the Muslim faith have access to Qurans as well as the opportunity to participate in the evening tradition of breaking fast. Preparations are also underway to celebrate Eid next month. 

While the MSO has implemented numerous steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, chaplains have been working to guarantee religious services are continuing.  Last month, chaplains made sure inmates of the Jewish faith received Seder Plates and prayer books for Passover, while Protestant and Catholic chaplains recorded Easter services that were broadcast inside the facility.

“Faith is a critical pillar for many of those in our custody,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian.  “We are committed to making sure individuals are able to continue to practice their faith during these extraordinary times.”

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April 22, 2020 – 4:46 p.m. (Update #24)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced 14 incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between April 14 – 20. 

In addition, the MSO announced a total of five (5) staff members tested positive during the same time period (April 14 – 20).  As of Tuesday, 16 staff members who previously tested positive have been medically cleared to return to work.  Additional staff are expected to return in the coming days.

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April 15, 2020 – 8:14 p.m. (Update #23)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced it has temporarily implemented steps to modify movement within the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.

The decision is part of continuing efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 at the facility and was communicated to individuals inside the facility Tuesday.  This step is designed to help enhance social distancing efforts by minimizing the number of individuals in contact with one another at any given time.

As part of this new effort:

  • Recreation, phones and showers will be modified to allow for a maximum of eight (8) incarcerated individuals at any one time in a housing unit.
  • All court proceedings shall continue when scheduled.
  • All individuals will be fed within their cells and housing units.
  • All canteen shall be delivered on schedule.
  • There will be an increase in rounds made by medical and mental health staff, as well as by caseworkers.

This step follows a series of other efforts implemented by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office since the beginning of March including:

  • Closing three dormitory-style housing units last week.
  • 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.
  • Daily consultation with an infectious diseases specialist advising the Middesex Sheriff’s Office.
  • Suspending non-professional visits and implementing non-contact visits for attorneys.
  • Allowing four (4) free phone calls per week for each incarcerated individual.
  • Requiring staff to wear protective masks for their duration of their shifts and providing masks to all incarcerated individuals who request one.

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is also continuing to remind the public that Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator Lili Bonilla has been designated as the central point of contact for families who may have questions or concerns about loved ones.  Ms. Bonilla can be reached at 978-932-3517 or by emailing [email protected].  Individuals or families with urgent concerns outside of normal business hours should contact 978-667-1711 ext. 0.

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April 14, 2020 – 7:49 p.m. (Update #22)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced five (5) incarcerated individuals tested positive for COVID-19 from April 10 – 13.  The results bring the total number of individuals currently being monitored as a result of positive tests to 11.

Two (2) individuals who previously tested positive have recovered, cleared medical isolation and have moved into a step down process.

In addition, the MSO announced a total of 16 correctional officers tested positive during the same time period (April 10 – 13).  As of today, two (2) staff members who previously tested positive have been medically cleared to return to work and additional staff are expected to return in the coming days.

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April 11, 2020 – 4:50 p.m. (Update #21)
During this Passover and Easter, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is working to ensure the spiritual needs of those in our custody are continuing to be met despite measures implemented to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Earlier this week, our Religious Services Coordinator Pastor Pierce VanDunk worked with our Jewish chaplain to make sure every individual of Jewish faith received Seder Plates and prayer books.

For those in our care of Christian faiths, we are broadcasting Easter services specifically created for them. The Protestant and Catholic services were recorded at off-site locations by our chaplains and will be played this weekend inside the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.

With the start of Ramadan coming up at the end of April, the chaplaincy team has also already begun preparations to meet the needs of Muslims in our custody.

“I want to thank all our chaplains for their efforts during this unprecedented time,” said Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian.

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April 10, 2020 – 9:23 a.m. (Update #20)
A 15 percent reduction in population at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction – driven by proactive steps taken by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and public safety partners – has allowed us to temporarily close multiple dormitory-style housing units.

These efforts were in place weeks before last Friday’s 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.

“In consultation with Dr. Alysse Wurcel – the infectious disease specialist who has been advising us since late February – we decided to temporarily close three dorms including our Housing Unit for Military Veterans,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian.  “The movement of individuals from these units to areas where we can further space individuals out, allows us to enhance social distancing practices.”

The reduction in population over the past four weeks provided us with the flexibility to move individuals on Wednesday.  The decline is a direct result of actions taken by the MSO, the district attorney, local law enforcement and the courts, in combination with the completion of sentences.  Among the most significant efforts undertaken by the MSO was a drastic increase in the volume of video and phone conferences facilitated from the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction, allowing cases – including bail reviews – to move forward while courts have largely been closed to the public.  Between March 18 and April 9, over 400 such conferences were held.

“Ensuring the health and well-being of our employees and those in our custody are our top priorities,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “Over the past six weeks we have implemented a series of steps designed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 including enhancing medical screening for newly committed individuals, requiring staff to wear protective masks for the duration of their shifts and making masks available to any incarcerated individual who requests one.  Wednesday’s move was the next step in that effort.”

The MSO has also implemented the following steps:

  • 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.
  • 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 (EMP) since March 20.  Ninety (90) percent of the new individuals from the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction are age 55+.  Also added since March 20, was one female from MCI-Framingham.
  • Eighty (80) pretrial individuals identified by the MSO, the DA and defense attorneys had their bail reduced after review by the DA and courts as of this past Monday.  Forty-eight (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. 
  • Designated our Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator Lili Bonilla as the central point of contact for families.  Lili can be reached at 978-932-3517 or by emailing [email protected].  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.

For information regarding the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office COVID-19 response, please visit our dedicated webpage middlesexsheriff.org/covid19.

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April 9, 2020 – 9:29 p.m. (Update #19)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) today announced one incarcerated individual has tested positive for COVID-19.  The results were returned this morning.

The individual, who was tested Wednesday and already in the Health Services Unit (HSU), will remain there in medical isolation.  Today’s case brings the total number of incarcerated individuals who have tested positive at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction to eight.

For information regarding the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office COVID-19 response, please visit our dedicated webpage middlesexsheriff.org/covid19.

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April 8, 2020 – 8:13 p.m. (Update #18)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced one incarcerated individual has tested positive for COVID-19.  The results were returned this morning.

The individual, who was tested yesterday and already in the Health Services Unit (HSU), will remain there in medical isolation.  Today’s case brings the total number of incarcerated individuals who have tested positive at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction to seven.

As a result of the positive test, movement in and out of the housing unit in which the individual previously resided will be restricted to essential personnel.

For information regarding the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office COVID-19 response, please visit our dedicated webpage middlesexsheriff.org/covid19.

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April 7, 2020 – 10:30 p.m. (Update #17)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced four incarcerated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19.

The individuals were tested Monday after displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19.  All four individuals were medically isolated in the Health Services Unit (HSU) and tested in accordance with our pre-established response plan.  Results of the tests were received Tuesday.

The four cases bring the total number of incarcerated individuals who have tested positive at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction to six.  The first two individuals who tested positive on March 27 & 28 were roommates who were immediately placed in medical isolation and are expected to complete their quarantine periods this week.

As a result of the new positive tests, movement in and out of an additional housing unit will be limited to only those presently living in the unit and essential staff.   Movement in the housing unit where the first two cases came from also remains limited at this time.

The MSO also announced today that 13 additional employees have tested positive, bringing the total to 21.

All those employees who have tested positive are remaining off duty until cleared by medical professionals to return to work.

In an effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has taken a number of steps since the end of February including:

  • Enhancing medical screening for new individuals entering the facility beginning on March 4.
  • Consulting daily with an infectious disease specialist.
  • Suspending in-person visits for family and friends, as well as volunteer services, as of March 13.
  • Requiring staff to wear a protective mask for the duration of their shift and providing masks to all incarcerated individuals who request one beginning on April 1.
  • Telling symptomatic staff 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.
  • Providing equipment for staff entering the facility to take temperature checks beginning on April 3.

To learn more about the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office response to COVID-19 please visit our dedicated webpage middlesexsheriff.org/covid19

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April 7, 2020 – 4:20 p.m. (Update #16)
Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced today 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.”

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 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 MSO does not have the authority to act alone, the Sheriff and staff are working with prosecutors and families to determine whether anyone in MSO custody could have their sentences reviewed by the judiciary.

These efforts build on prior steps taken by the MSO to safely reduce its facility population. A total of 19 individuals were also released when the MSO 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 [email protected].  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.”

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April 5, 2020 – 11:40 a.m. (Update #15)
In accordance with Governor Baker’s updated order regarding essential services, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office will be continuing the temporary suspension of certain services until Monday, May 4, 2020.

All MSO locations – except for the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction – have temporarily suspended operations.  The suspension of operations includes the executive and civil process offices, as well as the counseling center.

Designated essential personnel working at the effected locations – including in payroll and purchasing – will continue to work remotely in order to provide support services.

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April 2, 2020 – 7:30 p.m. (Update #14)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced seven employees working at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction have tested positive for COVID-19.  In addition, one employee who works in a position located outside the facility has also tested positive. 

All those employees who have tested positive will remain off duty until cleared by medical professionals to return to work.

As part of its response measures, the MSO has taken several steps to address situations involving staff including:

  • Telling symptomatic staff 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.
  • While respecting medical privacy, notifying staff members of potential exposures in their working area and told to remain at home. Staff members must be cleared by their medical providers and provide documentation to Human Resources before returning to work.
  • Beginning April 3, we will have thermometers, germicidal cloths and gloves available for staff to conduct self-temperature checks.  Staff will have the ability to check their temperatures on their way in, during the shift and before they return home.

The items listed above are in addition to other previously announced steps including:

  • Enhancing medical screening for new individuals entering the facility beginning on March 4.
  • Suspending in-person visits for family and friends, as well as volunteer services, as of March 13.
  • Offering four free phone calls of up to 20 minutes each for incarcerated individuals every week beginning on March 13. 
  • Requiring staff to wear a protective mask for the duration of their shift.
  • Providing masks to all incarcerated individuals who request one.
  • 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.

There have been no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving incarcerated individuals.

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April 1, 2020 – 2:45 p.m. (Update #13)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has implemented a new protocol regarding the wearing of protective masks inside the facility in a continued effort to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

Effective today, all staff entering the facility are required to wear a protective mask for the duration of their shift.  The masks are designed for multiple usages.

Additionally, the MSO will provide masks to all inmates and detainees who request one through their unit officers.

These steps are in addition to previously announced steps regarding the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) by staff.

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April 1, 2020 – 9:33 a.m. (Update #12)
While the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is continuing to facilitate and process bails for pretrial individuals being held at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction, we are implementing temporary new protocols designed to enhance health and safety.

Effective today (April 1, 2020), we will be limiting the number of the members of the public able to enter the visitor center and the jail lobby to one adult at a time (should a child be present that child will be able to remain with the adult).  Additional adults will be asked to remain outside the visitor center and will be processed in one person at a time.  While outside, we are asking individuals to please practice proper social distancing.

Please be aware this temporary change is being made for the continued protection of the public, our officers and staff, and all those who are currently being held at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.

To learn more about how to post bail at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction please follow this link.

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March 28, 2020 - 9:45 p.m. (Update #11)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today received the results of a COVID-19 test performed on a sentenced inmate whose roommate tested positive on Friday.  Though the second individual was not displaying any symptoms, he was placed in medical isolation in the Health Services Unit (HSU) and tested as a precaution at the recommendation of an external infectious disease specialist.  Results returned today indicated the individual was also positive.

After receiving the results of the first test yesterday, the MSO announced several additional steps it was implementing based on its pre-established response plan determined by consultation with inside medical staff, outside medical professionals and an external infectious disease specialist.  The new steps included:

  • Limiting movement in-and-out of the unit in which both men previously resided.
  • Providing all individuals residing in the unit with masks.
  • Officers assigned to the unit for the past several days were ordered not to report to work until further notice and asked to speak with their medical provider.
  • Officers currently working in the unit will utilize precautions including the donning of masks and gloves.  Nurses working in the unit will also don gowns in addition to the masks and gloves.

“The steps announced Friday morning were made in consultation with both internal and external medical professionals including Dr. Alysse Wurcel, an infectious diseases specialist at Tufts Medical Center,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter. J. Koutoujian.  “We have been consulting with Dr. Wurcel and others since the end of February, implementing numerous critical steps in anticipation of COVID-19’s arrival here in the Commonwealth.”

“The MSO contacted me several weeks ago to assist in COVID-19 preparedness.  I have been thoroughly impressed by their commitment to provide the highest quality of healthcare to people who are incarcerated, and provide education and tools to their staff to keep everyone healthy,” said Dr. Wurcel.  “To date, the communities within Middlesex county have been the hardest hit in all of Massachusetts, so it is not surprising that they are the first jail to report cases.  Case identification was facilitated through partnership Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who stepped up to fill huge gap in testing availability, and provided rapid turn-around COVID-19 testing.  I am in constant communication with the MSO staff as they develop protocols to triage inmates and staff with symptoms.  They have been doing an incredible job, under incredibly demanding circumstances.”

The new steps announced yesterday, supplement previously announced efforts including:

  • Enhancing medical screening for new individuals entering the facility beginning on March 4, and implementing corresponding protocols to respond to cases of concern.
  • Designating our Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator Lili Bonilla as the central point of contact for families.  Lili can be reached at 978-932-3517 or by emailing [email protected].  Individuals or families with urgent concerns outside of normal business hours should contact 978-667-1711 ext. 0.
  • Suspending in-person visits for family and friends, as well as volunteer services, as of March 13.
  • Offering four free phone calls of up to 20 minutes each for incarcerated individuals every week beginning on March 17.  This was an increase from the two free calls per week initially announced four days earlier.
  • Formally transitioning attorney visits from contact to non-contact on March 19, though most attorneys had utilized non-contact visits since March 13.
  • Vigorously enhanced cleaning of facilities and availability of cleaning products.
  • Expanding our use of video and telephone conferences to ensure court dates move forward for already incarcerated individuals.  The MSO has facilitated an average of 30 such conferences over the last eight court days.
  • Working with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office to support its review process of individuals being held pretrial on bail.
  • Placing a focus on elderly individuals and those with chronic health conditions, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  This includes conducting expedited review processes of sentenced individuals for consideration in our electronic monitoring program (EMP).  In cases where the MSO does not have the authority to act, we are attempting to work with prosecutors, families and the defense bar to determine whether anyone in our custody could have their sentences reviewed by the judiciary.
  • As a result of a combination of factors to date – including regularly scheduled releases, our work with the district attorney, the Mass Bail Fund and the continued facilitation of court hearings by video and telephonic means – the incarcerated population at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction has dropped by almost 10 percent since March 11 (from 787 to 711).

“The efforts undertaken by the members of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office have been nothing short of outstanding,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.   “During an unprecedented time, they have confronted this challenge head on – focused on ensuring the wellbeing of all those living in and working at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.  It is a testament to the professionalism of these dedicated officers, medical professionals and support staff members.”

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March 27, 2020 - 11:45 a.m. (Update #10)
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office today announced a sentenced individual currently being held at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction has tested positive for COVID-19.

Results of a test administered by medical staff on Thursday were returned from an outside lab early this morning.

The individual was placed in medical isolation and housed in a single room in the facility’s health services unit (HSU) after developing a fever yesterday.  The individual’s roommate, who has not displayed any symptoms, was also moved to the HSU and placed in medical quarantine as a precaution on Thursday and was tested this morning.  Results of that test are pending.

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has now activated its pre-established response plan.  That plan – developed in consultation with inside medical staff, outside medical professionals and an external infectious disease specialist – involves several steps including:

  • Keeping the individual medically isolated in the health services unit (HSU).
  • Limiting movement in-and-out of the unit in which the individual was previously residing to only those presently living in the unit and essential staff.
  • Staff assigned to the unit in the last several days have been notified, told not to report to work until further notice and asked to speak with their medical providers.
  • Officers working in the unit will utilize precautions including the donning of masks and gloves.  Nurses working in the unit will also don gowns in addition to the masks and gloves.
  • All incarcerated individuals in the unit will be provided masks.  They will continue to have access to soap, water and showers.
  • Mental health staff will increase its presence throughout the facility.
  • Peer Support Team members and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) will be available to staff.

The new steps announced today are in addition to previously announced efforts including:

  • Consulting daily with an outside infectious disease specialist.
  • Enhancing medical screening for new individuals entering the facility and implementing corresponding protocols to respond to cases of concern.
  • Suspending in-person visits for family and friends.
  • Offering four free phone calls of up to 20 minutes each for incarcerated individuals every week.
  • Transitioning attorney visits from contact to non-contact.
  • Expanding its use of video and telephone conferences to ensure court dates move forward for already incarcerated individuals.
  • Designated our Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator Lili Bonilla as the central point of contact for families.  Lili can be reached at 978-932-3517 or by emailing [email protected].  Individuals or families with urgent concerns outside of normal business hours should contact 978-667-1711 ext. 0.

“The health and safety of all those held at, working at and visiting the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction are our top priorities,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian.   “Each and every step we have taken to date and will take moving forward are aimed at meeting those priorities.”

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March 23, 2020 – 4:00 p.m. (Update #9)
In accordance with Governor Baker’s essential services order issued today, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is implementing several temporary changes.

All MSO locations – except for the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction – will temporarily suspend operations on Tuesday, March 24 at 12 Noon.  The suspension of operations will include the executive and civil process offices, as well as the counseling center (which was previously suspended effective March 17) and will remain in effect until Tuesday, April 7 at 12 Noon.

Designated essential personnel working at the effected locations – including in payroll and purchasing – will work remotely in order to provide support services.

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Thursday, March 19, 2020 – 10:54 a.m. (Update #8)
Please be advised that effective immediately all attorney visits have been transitioned to non-contact.  Upon arrival, staff will be able to direct attorneys to appropriate locations.

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March 18, 2020 - 8:45 p.m. (Update #7)
Beginning on Thursday, March 19 the civil process division will temporarily suspend in-person business at its Medford office. 

Individuals seeking services should call our main telephone at 617-547-1171 for assistance.

To learn more about the civil process division please visit www.middlesexsheriff.org/civil.

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March 18, 2020 - 3:13 p.m. (Update #6)
Effective today, individuals wishing to post bail at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction are asked to arrive by 6 p.m. Monday - Friday and inform the officer at checkpoint that they are there to post bail.

Weekend bails will continue to beconducted on an on-call basis only.

To learn more about posting bail, please click here.

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March 18, 2020 - 8:00 a.m. (Update #5)
Please be advised our civil process division will re-open for business at 8 a.m. today, however activities at the counseling center in Lowell remain suspended. 

Individuals with questions regarding civil process may contact 617-547-1171.  Those wishing to conduct business at our Medford office are strongly encouraged to contact the office in advance.  

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March 17, 2020 - 4:05 p.m. (Update #4)
Individuals wishing to post bail at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction may continue to do so utilizing the existing procedures.

To learn more about posting bail, please click here.

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March 17, 2020 - 11:36 a.m. (Update #3)
Please be advised that our civil process office in Medford and our counseling center in Lowell are closed today – Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Additional updates regarding the resumption of services will be posted here.

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March 17, 2020 – 10:33 a.m. (Update #2)
Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian has announced he is expanding the number of free telephone calls individuals at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction will be offered per week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective today, all incarcerated individuals will be offered four (4) free calls per week with a maximum of 20 minutes per call.  This doubles the number of free calls that was announced this past Friday.

The free calls are being offered in an effort to alleviate the disruption caused by the suspension of in-person visits. 

We are also aggressively exploring additional possible means of communication including video visitation and electronic messaging.

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March 16, 2020 – 11:20 a.m. (Update #1)
In an effort to further streamline the flow of accurate and timely information, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has designated a point person to address questions regarding the COVID-19 response from family members of loved ones currently incarcerated at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.

Family members seeking information about ongoing Middlesex Sheriff’s Office efforts or with concerns about loved ones may contact:

Lili Bonilla
Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator
E: [email protected]
P: 978-932-3517

Individuals with urgent concerns outside of normal business hours should contact 978-667-1711 ext. 0.

Inquiries from members of the media should continue to be directed to Public Information Officer Kevin Maccioli at 781-960-2805 or [email protected].

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office will also continue to utilize this website, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

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March 13, 2020 – 5:05 p.m.

As we address the evolving challenges of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to share information regarding the critical steps we are taking to manage the health and safety of all those held at, working in and visiting the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.

  1. As of 3 p.m. today, all non-attorney visits were suspended pending further notice.  The decision to suspend visits was made based on current information available to the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.
     
  2. In an effort to alleviate disruptions with visits, starting on Saturday, March 14, 2020 - and lasting until further notice – incarcerated individuals will be offered two (2) free calls per week with a maximum call time of fifteen (15) minutes per calls.  This is a first interim step as we work towards offering more calling opportunities.  We are also aggressively exploring additional possible means of communication including video visitation and electronic messaging.
     
  3. In consultation with internal and external medical professionals, we have expanded the panel of questions we pose to those committed to our custody.  These questions – which have been in place since March 4 – were added to our existing medical intake in an effort to identify individuals who may have symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have come in contact with those with lab confirmed cases.  We have also implemented corresponding protocols should cases of concern arise, including notification and coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
     
  4. We are also strongly encouraging attorneys wishing to meet with clients at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction to consider utilizing non-contact space.  Staff will be able to direct attorneys to the appropriate locations.
     
  5. We have worked with the courts and other key stakeholders to expand the use of video conferencing for judicial appearances.  This will significantly decrease travel outside the facility for officers and incarcerated individuals.
     
  6. Programming (including religious services) provided by MSO staff and contractors will continue, however volunteer services will be temporarily suspended through March 22.  This pause is intended to ensure that core services remain active while we evaluate future steps.
     
  7. Additionally, we are 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.
     
  8. We have also vigorously enhanced our efforts to clean and sanitize all MSO facilities and have increased the availability of necessary protective equipment and sanitizing products.

“As this situation evolves, we remain committed to working closely with our governmental and non-governmental partners to make certain our processes and protocols remain sound,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian.  “The health and safety of our employees, incarcerated individuals and visitors is of paramount importance.”

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