Tracking COVID-19 in Massachusetts Prison & Jails

Winter 2021 Updates

In response to continuing changes in county and state reporting, please note that multiple new metrics have been added to this site as of [January 29, 2021], including:
  • Vaccinations
  • [DOC only] Hospitalizations of prisoners, retroactive to December
  • [DOC only] Medical parole approval for prisoners, retroactive to April
  • Weekly parole releases, retroactive to April
  • Jail populations at the facility level (applies for counties with multiple facilities: Bristol, Essex, Hampden, Suffolk), retroactive to September

Explore Massachusetts Prisons and Jails' Response to COVID-19

View plots in the different tabs to track testing, positive cases, and releases in prisons and jail during the COVID-19 pandemic, as documented in reports made by Massachusetts prisons and jails to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC).

About the Data

The data displayed here are compiled from information supplied by county sheriffs and the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) in Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court, SJC-12926, a case brought by the Committee for Public Counsel Services (the Massachusetts public defenders), the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the ACLU of Massachusetts. This case seeks releases of incarcerated people to protect them, correctional staffs, and the public from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following an opinion by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in this case on April 3, 2020, sheriffs and the DOC have been required to provide daily reports that shed light on the COVID-19 situation inside Massachusetts prisons, jails, and houses of correction.

Learn more about the history, details, and outcomes of the case at the ACLU of Massachusetts website: Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court.

The data sourced for all visualizations on this site are available for download here.

Source Code

Interested programmers can view the source code for this app, written in R, on GitHub.

Disclaimer

All data and analysis presented here is subject to change based on updates and amendments received from the counties and the state. For more resources on dealing with inconsistencies in these data, visit our page on external resources.

Dates & Locations of COVID Deaths

Though the June 23 amendment requires reporting of deaths going forward, it did not require retroactive reporting of the time and place of COVID-19 related deaths of incarcerated folks in Massachusetts. The below list reflects the ACLU-MA's best recreation of when and where these deaths occurred, as reported in the media.

  1. April 2, 2020 - DOC - Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC)
  2. April 3, 2020 - DOC - Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC)
  3. April 4, 2020 - DOC - Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC)
  4. April ~13, 2020 - DOC - Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC)
  5. April 16, 2020 - DOC - MCI – Shirley
  6. April ~22, 2020 - DOC - Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC)
  7. April 22, 2020 - DOC - MCI – Shirley
  8. April 30, 2020 - Essex County - Middleton House of Correction (HOC)
  9. May 15, 2020 - DOC - MCI – Shirley
  10. July 2, 2020 - Norfolk County Jail
Please note that potentially COVID-19-related deaths of previous inmates which occurred outside of a correctional facility are not reported here.

Inconsistencies in Reporting

This site exists as a resource to document data which Massachusets prisons, jails, and houses of corrections report to the SJC amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

However, it became evident in the first few days of reports that there were inconsistencies in data collection from the various institutions.

Recommended Resources

To gain additional perspectives on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting incarcerated people in Massachusetts, we recommend the following resources:

Select population to plot.

Select up to three locations to plot versus time.

While DOC provides total population counts by facility, its reported numbers of pretrial, sentenced, and other populations are not broken down by facility. As a result, the pretrial, sentenced and other breakdowns under the "All" and "DOC Aggregate" selections below include DOC data in aggregate for all DOC facilities, but this information is not available for each individual DOC facility.
Only the following entities report "other" populations:
  • DOC (in aggregate, not by individual facility): civil commitments
  • Bristol: ICE detainees on-site
  • Hampden: Section 35 civil commitments
  • Plymouth: USMS, ICE, WMS, parole detainer, civil contempt
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Select population to plot.

Select location to plot versus time.*

*The DOC only began reporting facility-level prisoner positives on April 13, facility-level staff positives on April 15, and facility-level testing data on April 25. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff. DOC "staff" includes both DOC correctional officers and other non-DOC staff.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Reports of COVID-19 prisoner deaths pursuant to SJC 12926

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Dates & Locations of COVID-19 Deaths

Please note that neither the count above nor the list below include the two known deaths that occured after prisoners were released on medical parole in November, as reported by WBUR.
  • Before June 23: 10 deaths:
    • [DOC] MTC - 5 deaths
    • [DOC] MCI-Shirley - 3 deaths
    • Essex - 1 deaths
    • Norfolk - 1 deaths
For information regarding the dates and locations of deaths before June 23, please visit our external resources page.

Reports of DOC prisoners currently hospitalized with COVID-19

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Reports of COVID-19 prisoner deaths in DOC facilities pursuant to SJC 12926

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Dates & Locations of DOC COVID-19 Deaths

Please note that neither the above count nor the below list include the two known deaths that occured after prisoners were released on medical parole in November, as reported by WBUR.
  • Before June 23: 8 deaths:
    • MTC - 5 deaths
    • MCI-Shirley - 3 deaths
For information regarding the dates and locations of deaths before June 23, please visit our external resources page.

Select population:

Please note that the DOC and the HOCs currently report only the weekly and cumulative vaccinations they themselves administer. As a result, these numbers will not capture any staff or incarcerated individuals who have been vaccinated elsewhere. Furthermore, due to prisoner turnover, these data likely do not reflect the number of currently incarcerated individuals who have been vaccinated.

Cumulative COVID-19 vaccines administered to

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Select population:

Select up to two locations to plot versus time.

Please note that the DOC and the HOCs currently report only the weekly and cumulative vaccinations they themselves administer. As a result, these numbers will not capture any staff or incarcerated individuals who have been vaccinated elsewhere. Furthermore, due to prisoner turnover, these data likely do not reflect the number of currently incarcerated individuals who have been vaccinated.
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Select kind of individual:

Exact number of tests per county annotated in "Prisoners", "Staff", and "Total" plots. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff. DOC "staff" testing data includes only DOC correctional officers, not other non-DOC staff.

Reports of tested for COVID-19 pursuant to SJC 12926

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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select population to plot.

Select up to three locations to plot versus time.

County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff. DOC "staff" testing data includes only DOC correctional officers, not other non-DOC staff.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select kind of individual:

Exact number of tests per facility annotated in "Prisoners", "Staff", and "Total" plots. DOC "staff" testing data includes only DOC correctional officers, not other non-DOC staff.

Reports of tested for COVID-19 at individual DOC facilities pursuant to SJC 12926

*The DOC only began reporting facility-level testing data for prisoners and DOC staff on April 25. Reports include only tests of DOC correctional officers, not for other staff. See the Total Tests page for longer-term totals.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select population to plot.

Select up to three facilities to plot versus time.*

*The DOC only began reporting facility-level testing data for prisoners and DOC staff on April 25. Reports include only tests of DOC correctional officers, not for other staff. See the Counties + DOC Tests Over Time page for longer-term DOC tracking **DOC Total reflects DOC-wide reports, and might undercount cases as compared to the facility total due to the DOC-wide data reporting active, rather than total, cases. DOC "staff" testing data includes only DOC correctional officers, not other non-DOC staff.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select kind of individual:

Exact number of tests per facility annotated in "Prisoners", "Staff", and "Total" plots. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff.

Reports of tested for COVID-19 at individual county facilities pursuant to SJC 12926

*Only some counties began reporting facility-level testing data on May 8. See the Counties + DOC Aggregates: Total Tests page for longer-term totals.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select population to plot.

Select up to three facilities to plot versus time.*

*Only some counties began reporting facility-level testing data on May 8. See the Counties + DOC Aggregates: Total Tests page for longer-term totals. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select kind of individual:

Exact number of positive tests per county annotated in "Prisoners", "Staff", and "Total" plots. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff. DOC "staff" includes both DOC correctional officers and other non-DOC staff.

Reports of tested positive for COVID-19 pursuant to SJC 12926

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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select population to plot.

Select up to three locations to plot versus time.

County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff. DOC "staff" includes both DOC correctional officers and other non-DOC staff.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select kind of individual:

Exact number of positive tests per facility annotated in "Prisoners", "Staff", and "Total" plots. DOC "staff" includes both DOC correctional officers and other non-DOC staff.

Reports of tested positive for COVID-19 at individual DOC facilities pursuant to SJC 12926

*The DOC only began reporting facility-level prisoner data on April 13, facility-level DOC staff data on April 15, and facility-level non-DOC "other" staff data on November 11. See the Total Positive Tests page for longer-term totals.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select population to plot.

Select up to three facilities to plot versus time.*

*The DOC only began reporting facility-level prisoner data on April 13, facility-level DOC staff data on April 15, and facility-level non-DOC staff data on November 11. See the Counties + DOC Positive Tests Over Time page for longer-term DOC tracking **DOC Total reflects DOC-wide reports, and might undercount cases as compared to the facility total due to the DOC-wide data reporting active, rather than total, cases. DOC "staff" includes both DOC correctional officers and other non-DOC staff.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select kind of individual:

Exact number of positive tests per facility annotated in "Prisoners", "Staff", and "Total" plots. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff.

Reports of tested positive for COVID-19 at individual county facilities pursuant to SJC 12926

*Only some counties began reporting facility-level positive data on May 8. See the Counties + DOC Aggregates: Total Positive Tests page for longer-term totals.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select population to plot.

Select up to three facilities to plot versus time.*

*Only some counties began reporting facility-level positive data on May 8. See the Counties + DOC Aggregates: Total Positive Tests page for longer-term totals. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select kind of individual:

Exact number of tests per county annotated in "Prisoners", "Staff", and "Total" plots. Note that the DOC is not reporting active staff cases. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff.

Reports of currently infected with COVID-19, pursuant to SJC 12926
Showing active cases as reported on (DOC), (counties)

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Select population to plot.

Select up to three locations to plot versus time.

Note that the DOC is not reporting active staff cases. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff.
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Reports of DOC prisoners currently infected with COVID-19, pursuant to SJC 12926
Showing active DOC cases as reported on

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The DOC does not report active staff cases.

Select up to three locations to plot versus time.

The DOC does not report active staff cases.
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Select kind of individual:

Exact number of tests per facility annotated in "Prisoner", "Staff", and "Total" plots. Essex County does not report staff positives by facility. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff.

Showing active cases as reported on

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Select population to plot.

Select up to three locations to plot versus time.

Essex County does not report staff positives by facility. County "staff" includes correctional officers, contractors, and other staff.
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Select kind of prisoner:

Exact number of releases per county annotated in "Pre-Trial", "Sentenced", "Home Confinements", and "Total" plots.

Prisoners released pursuant to SJC 12926

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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select up to three locations to plot versus time.

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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Reports of prisoners released at individual DOC facilities pursuant to SJC 12926

*The DOC only began reporting facility-level releases on April 29. See the Counties + DOC: Total Releases page for longer-term totals.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Select up to three facilities to plot versus time.*

*The DOC only began reporting facility-level releases on April 29. See the Counties + DOC: Releases Over Time page for longer-term totals. **DOC Total reflects the cumulative count of prisoner releases submitted in DOC-wide reports going back to March 27.
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Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

Reports of DOC prisoners approved for medical parole

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Reports of prisoners released on parole

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Reports of prisoners released on parole at individual DOC facilities

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Select up to three locations to plot versus time.

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Select value to plot.

All maps reflect data from county jails and HOCs alone, as the Massachusutts DOC has only been reporting facility-level data since April 25th. Maps of tests and positive cases include both prisoner and staff data. Please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.
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Please be aware that the below data on tests, positive cases, releases, and deaths are entered in a non-cumulative manner. Values in each row reflect not updated tallies of tests/cases/releases/deaths on the noted day, but rather the number of new tests/cases/releases/deaths in a 24-hour period.

The exception is the active cases columns, which reflect the total number of known individuals infected with COVID-19 on a given day.
Note: Empty cells denote that the given county did not report that value, while cells with value 0 mean 0 was reported. Additionally, please note that prisoner deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in these data.

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Data analysts at the ACLU of Massachusetts compile the daily reports recieved from the counties and DOC into a single spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is what we source for all visualizations on this site.

Please note that we frequently receive corrections on previous reports, which starting in January 2021 we denote in red.

Current file size: entries

The accumulated database is available for download here:

Download XLSX