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Lawmakers and advocates looking to ease the spread of coronavirus in prisons through decarceration are playing a short-sighted, potentially dangerous game while doing little to address real safety in this pandemic and future outbreaks.

Yesterday, a coalition of legal aid and community groups urged Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration to reduce incarceration levels and limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission among inmates and correctional officers. The speakers at Tuesday’s press conference said social-distancing practices and other public health protocols cannot be properly implemented in prisons and jails because of crowded conditions.

“The need for decarceration, the release of prisoners is the only way to stem the public health emergency that’s facing our prisoners, those that are incarcerated,” said Rev. David Lewis, a board member of the Pioneer Valley Project. “Social distancing is impossible to do in prisons, and infections are spreading dangerously fast.”

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