The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has already ruled that some pre-trial detainees not charged with certain violent offenses could be released into the community in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 outbreaks within prisons and jails, where people are often unable to properly maintain guidelines for social distancing.
Now, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is calling on Governor Charlie Baker to use his powers of parole and commutation to release some people who have already been convicted and sentenced back into the community.
In a letter Rollins sent to Baker on Wednesday, she writes she has "grave concerns regarding the inadequate deployment of resources in our state's jails, houses of correction, and prisons." According to the letter, only 4 percent of total incarcerated population has been released.
Rollins told Boston Public Radio on Thursday the Supreme Judicial Court deferred authority to the executive branch to exercise its parole and commutations powers for people who may be released back into the community. Rollins said her office would assess cases and present him a list of people they believe could be safely released.
"We will cull through all the information, we will be honest and thoughtful, and if there are people that you, with the stroke of a pen, can either commute their sentence or pardon them, we would like to present a list to you," she said. "Will you at least allow us to do that?"
Baker's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
During her segment with Boston Public Radio, Rollins also took calls from listeners.
Read Rollins' full letter to Baker below.