Bristol County House of Correction, Bristol, Massachusetts
March 23, 2020

Immigrant detainees in the Bristol County House of Correction released two letters expressing concerns about COVID-19 and demanding the release of some detainees. One of the letters was signed by 51 detainees.

“We are trapped inside a storage and in fear for our life. Please help!”, the detainees wrote, referring to their incarceration by ICE.

According to the detainees, guards at the facility have demonstrated symptoms of COVID-19 and the administration has failed to effectively respond to protect the safety of everyone involved. From their statement:

The I.C.E. detainees of unit B of the Bristol County Correctional Center, individually and collectively would like to highlight serious concerns about the outbreak of the COVID-19 Virus within the facility of Bristol Correctional Center. The facility safety conditions and the conditions of it’s personnel, in light of two recent and separate episodes have raised the concern into a very serious matter. Specifically, on March 14, 2020 a Correctional Officer was observed to be symptomatic of the COVID-19 Virus during his shift. He never returned to unit B leaving all detainees very worried. The second C.O. that showed symptoms was on March 16,2020 and was later replaced by a collegue to then return with coughing and sneezing.

Those two separate and serious episodes recently occurred have alarmed the entire detainee population of unit B and prompted a number of detainees to file their own Sick Call/Medical Encounter Request.

On March 22, 2020 C.O. Aylwart during a conversation with one of the detainees stated the following: “You don’t get it, this [coronavirus) is nothing more than a flu” missing the gravity of the situation entirely. Once told the current situation the Italy is experiencing he dismissed the topic entirely. This naive behavior is of a grave concern of us. How can we be sure that this CO adheres the Federal recommendations when he totally ignores the existence of the Covid-19? His behavior was reckless to say the least.

Immigrant advocacy group Unidad Latina en Acción and Never Again Action Boston, a Jewish social justice organization, staged a protest on March 26, 2020 to pressure politicians into releasing the detainees. They conducted a “honkathon” where over 100 protestors honked car horns while circling the detention center, maintaining social distancing.

 

Citations:

Bristol County Correctional Center Detainee Letter 1“, March 18, 2020.

Bristol County Correctional Center Detainee Letter 2“, March 23, 2020.

“51 People Detained by ICE in Bristol County Write Letter & Demands Regarding COVID-19”, Shut Down ICE, Fang Collective, March 20, 2020.

57 Inmates To A Unit, Bunk Beds 3 Feet Apart; ICE Detainees In Bristol County Cite Overcrowding Amid COVID-19 Fears“, WBUR, March 20, 2020.

Second Letter From Unit B in Bristol County“, Shut Down ICE, Fang Collective, March 24, 2020.

‘They Fear That They’re Going To Die Here’; ICE Detainees In Bristol County Speak Out On COVID-19 Concerns“, WBUR, March 24, 2020.

Detainees at jail say they fear COVID-19 outbreak“, CommonWealth, March 20, 2020

Activists Protest Conditions in ICE Detention Centers“, Yale Daily News. March 31, 2020.

Article posted: 3/31/2020. Photo source: The Boston Herald