The state's highest court has ordered the release of people being held in jail while they await trial amid the coronavirus pandemic, unless prosecutors can prove they pose a danger to the public or a flight risk, in an effort to prevent widespread illness in jails and prisons.

Former Suffolk County sheriff Andrea Cabral told Boston Public Radio on Thursday the push to release some people from incarceration during the unprecedented public health emergency that COVID-19 presents has renewed a broad conversation about "whether or not incarceration, especially for certain types of crimes, actually achieves anything that society is looking to achieve."

"The price you pay for committing a crime — other than a murder — should not be your life," she said.

But Cabral also noted releases in emergency situations like the pandemic often are temporary, and argued for evidence-based data collection about inmate releases, so incarceration standards can be properly re-evaluated under normal circumstances.