Massachusetts Lawmakers Urge President Trump To Reduce Prison Population

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley have written a letter to President Trump urging him to reduce the nation's prison population amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter from the Massachusetts lawmakers urged the President to use his "unrestricted executive power" which allows him to "pardon or commute the sentence of any person in federal custody," in order to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus inside prisons.

"As public health officials have warned, the carceral system is a breeding ground for an infectious outbreak," the letter said. "Furthermore, the prison population is one of the most at risk for both getting sick and for becoming a hub for spreading the virus in the broader community. Vendors, staff, and correction officers coming into and leaving the facilities pose a considerable risk of spreading the coronavirus infection."

The letter said there have already been two Federal Bureau of Prisons staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, one in Texas and one in New Hampshire. Those cases resulted in 34 inmates and staff being quarantined.

In an effort to avoid a similar problem within the Massachusetts prison system, Warren and Pressley urged Trump to "reduce the population of people in federal custody whose release poses no risk to public safety."

Two days after the letter was sent, a man at a prison in Bridgewater was declared the first inmate in Massachusetts to test positive for COVID-19.

The man serving a life sentence at Massachusetts Treatment Center has been moved to isolation, officials said on Saturday. His roommate, who is so far not showing symptoms, has also been quarantined as a precaution.

In a statement, the medium-security prison said that "maintaining the safety, security, and well-being of our inmate population, staff, and the public remains the MADOC’s highest priority." Officials have compiled a list of all people who were in direct contact with the infected inmate, and the Department of Public Health been notified of that list.

"The department will continue to work closely with our medical provider and DPH to take necessary precautions to mitigate any potential spread of the virus," the statement said.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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