Sheriff Hodgson and the judge’s order

May 19, 2020
Despite Sheriff Hodgson’s self congratulatory praise and quoting from Federal Court Judge Young’s Memorandum and order of May 12th there are several salient portions of that decision that contradict the Sheriff’s interpretation and meaning of the court order.
Those few sentences which Hodgson cites from the memorandum are offered by him as a vindication of his management of the Immigrant Detention Center. However, the more significant and extensive portions of that memorandum are completely contrary to what the Sheriff would have everyone believe.
The multi-page judge’s memorandum is replete with criticism and concern that the detainees at the Bristol County House of Correction (BCHOC) and the staff are at imminent risk to their health and well being.
By way of illustration I quote the following from Judge Young’s memorandum and order of May 12th which immediately follow a commendation of the staff: “Nonetheless there remains critical safety gaps that establish a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary equitable relief.  Testing of both Staff and detainees has been minimal, so the real infection rate is a mystery.”
A related problem is the “insufficient and ad hoc contact tracing of detainees and BCHOC staff who may have interacted with Covid-19 positive individuals.”
“Of particular concern is the contradictory evidence in the record regarding monitoring of those Detainees who are especially vulnerable to Covid-19.”
“Had the Court stayed its hand little or no progress would have been made at BCHOC towards accurately determining the virus presence among the Detainees and Staff and towards effectively separating potential carriers from others...”
“There is little doubt that the Detainees would likely demonstrate at trial a substantial risk of serious harm to their health arising from their conditions of confinement amidst the Covid-19 outbreak.”
“Keeping individuals confined closely together in the presence of a potentially lethal virus, while neither knowing who is carrying it nor taking effective measures to find out, likely displays deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm. That is what the evidence shows here.”
As indicated rather aptly by one of the lawyers representing the detainees, what we need to realize is that the judge has released a significant number of detainees which is an embarrassment to Sheriff Hodgson and proof of the risk he has posed to those relegated to his facility, his staff and to the community.
It appears that Sheriff Hodgson needs to reread the judge’s memorandum so that he understands its essence and commence applying deliberate and compassionate attention to those assigned to his facility, to his staff and to the community.
Betty Ussach