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Court says coronavirus makes it imperative to release many people being held before trial immediately

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that people not awaiting trial for the most serious charges have a right to seek immediate release on personal recognizance - and appointed a special master to start hearings on applications for immediate release - as a matter of public health.

We conclude that the risks inherent in the COVID-19 pandemic constitute a changed circumstance within [state bail laws]. To decrease exposure to COVID-19 within correctional institutions, any individual who is not being held without bail under G. L. c. 276, § 58A, and who has not been charged with an excluded offense (i.e., a violent or serious offense) is entitled to a rebuttable presumption of release. The individual shall be ordered released pending trial on his or her own recognizance, without surety, unless an unreasonable danger to the community would result, or the individual presents a very high risk of flight.

The ruling by the state's highest court lets district attorneys and the state attorney general appeal any release requests.

The court excluded people being held pending trial for violent crimes, from murder to armed assault and battery and mayhem; domestic violence; witness intimidation, OUI on a third or subsequent offense; motor-vehicle manslaughter; illegal gun possession; rape and indecent assault and battery; human trafficking; incest; child pornography and trafficking in cocaine or heroin in excess of 200 grams; trafficking in fentanyl or carafentanil. Also barred from immediate release: Anybody charged as an accessory to or part of a conspiracy related to any of the above crimes.

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Comments

"Carfentanil", if I'm not mistaken.

Unfortunate that they're holding anyone for drug charges.

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Voting closed 10

That shit is killing people dude.

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Voting closed 29

and not all of these people have actually been convicted of a crime.

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Well my opinion is if they are awaiting trial for putting fentanyl on the streets keep them locked up.

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Voting closed 25

You realize that anyone could be "awaiting trial for putting fentanyl on the streets", right? That's why we have this whole, you know, judicial system.

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Voting closed 20

You’d have to be caught selling it

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You’d have to be caught selling it

Correction: You'd have to be accused by a single police officer of having been caught selling it.

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Correction: Trafficking does not involve selling anything.

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I realize that. Thank you

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Voting closed 11

See the post above.

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Voting closed 5

Wouldn't 'held without bail' imply that it was a serious crime?

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Voting closed 11

The only time bail isn't granted is if there is significant evidence the person is an immediate danger to themselves and/or others, or they have substantial resources that would make it very difficult to prevent them from escaping the court's jurisdiction, or they are likely to not care about even an absurd amount of bail money.

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Voting closed 5

... that double negative is a bit hard to read.

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Kudos to Brien O'Connor for leading this effort.

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Had I read the ruling more thoroughly, like to the end, I would have noticed that it applies only to people awaiting trial or in jail because they couln't make bail. It does NOT apply to people who have already been convicted and are serving sentences.

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Voting closed 11

that people who bought heroin bundles for personal use are gonna get screwed since everything is cut with garbage. Very good news aside from that as far as I'm concerned.
And before anyone gets a stick up their ass: Rikers Island inmates are digging mass graves for other prisoners right now for $6/hr.

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