After Alleged Violence at Immigration Detention Center, the Congressional Delegation Members Urge Bristol County Sheriff to Provide Full Transparency and Protections for the Rights of the Individuals in Custody

Letter to Sheriff Hodgson (PDF)

Boston, MA - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Representatives William Keating (D-MA-09) and Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), today sent a letter to Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson after reports of a violent incident at the Bristol County House of Correction's C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center, Unit B, on Friday, May 1, 2020. Sheriff Hodgson, who oversees the facility, alleges the detained persons "attacked" personnel and trashed the unit, whereas detained persons reportedly said they were handled violently, unnecessarily pepper-sprayed, and denied access to counsel, after raising concerns about health and safety protections as they were being prepared to be transferred for COVID-19 testing.

"There are conflicting accounts about what occurred, and we believe that there must be a full, independent investigation by an external entity," the lawmakers wrote in their letter. "To ensure that such an investigation can occur, we request that you preserve video recordings taken in Unit B that relate to Friday's events. We also write to urge you to allow persons detained at your facility to speak with their attorneys immediately. This includes any detained individuals who were taken to a hospital after Friday's events. Their attorneys must be permitted to confidentially speak with their clients and check in on their clients' health and wellbeing."

On April 2, 2020, the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation wrote privately to the sheriffs overseeing each of the Massachusetts facilities, including Bristol County, that detain people on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The letter urged officials to implement alternatives to detention as much as possible, requested information about COVID-19 testing and their steps to comply with federal guidelines on management of COVID-19, and encouraged them to work to limit facility-to-facility transfers in order to protect the health and safety of detained people, facility personnel, and the general public during the pandemic.