43 to be released from Dartmouth detention center over Covid-19 concerns
Bristol County House of Correction will be releasing 43 detainees from its Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility after a federal judge ordered the releases this week due to concerns of a coronavirus outbreak at the Dartmouth jail.
Commonwealth Magazine reported that US District Court Judge William Young ordered the releases this week from lists of detainees provided in almost-daily hearings, and that those released will be placed under house arrest and quarantined for 14 days.
The ICE facility has come under recent scrutiny due to the pandemic, with detainees on strike against allegedly unsafe conditions, a federal lawsuit requesting their release, and with one nurse and now two more staffers at the facility testing positive for the virus.
Young ordered the first three ICE detainees released last week on top of six voluntarily released by the federal agency. The judge will also reportedly hold bail hearings for 49 more detainees from April 14-20.
The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office announced on April 8 that two officers at the jail — a correctional officer and a K9 officer — have tested positive for Covid-19.
Both staffers worked their last shifts in late March, and according to the office, both are now feeling well.
The nurse tested positive for coronavirus on April 1 after she went home with a low-grade fever on March 25. She had worked an overnight shift at the ICE facility and the women’s center.
Detainees had been protesting conditions in which beds are just three feet apart, making it impossible to maintain the recommended six feet of distance from another person. The protest included a strike started on March 30 and a federal lawsuit filed on March 27.
On Friday afternoon, Sheriff Hodgson tweeted, “The practice of judges releasing prisoners due to COVID-19 puts our neighborhoods, communities and nation at greater risk.”
He went on to claim that among those released were people “charged or convicted of crimes including elderly rape, fentanyl trafficking, enticing a child under 16, etc.”
However, Commonwealth Magazine quoted attorney Oren Sellstrom with Lawyers for Civil Rights, the group responsible for the lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, as saying that Hodgson’s statement is “false.”