Bristol County Jail Population Down 11 Percent Since Ruling

Scott Souza

ATTLEBORO, MA — The number of inmates at the state's correctional facilities in Bristol County has dropped 11.2 percent to 617 from 695 on April 5, when a sweeping court order allowed the release of nonviolent offenders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The state said 40 inmates were released in Bristol County due to the Supreme Judicial Court ruling.

According to state data, 15 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 10 corrections officer and four other staff members.

The Bristol County House of Correction and Jail in North Dartmouth, and Ash Street Jail and Regional Lockup in New Bedford, have conducted 105 tests since April 5 with 101 inmates tested and four officers tested.

Statewide, there have been 153 confirmed cases and inmates, 95 among correctional officers and 37 cases among staff members at the state's county jails since April 5, when a court-appointed overseer started compiling weekly reports on testing and confirmed cases for Department of Corrections facilities.

The ruling said people charged with most crimes should be released without bail "unless an unreasonable danger to the community would result, or the individual presents a very high risk of flight." The ruling lets people currently serving sentences of 60 days or fewer to file motions to have their sentences revised or revoked.

Across Massachusetts, 811 prisoners have been released from county jails under the order, including 58 in Essex County. The court order also said most inmates should be released on personal recognizance while awaiting trial, which factors into the 11.2 percent drop in Bristol County.

The ruling also ordered the Department of Corrections and parole board to speed up the process for paroling prisoners "and to identify other classes of inmates who might be able to be released by agreement of the parties, as well as expediting petitions for compassionate release."

This article originally appeared on the Attleboro Patch