The spread of COVID-19 is a crisis, and it will take many of us working together to respond appropriately, effectively, and fairly. The ACLU of Massachusetts will be monitoring the situation to ensure a response that is ​scientifically justified and no more intrusive upon civil liberties than absolutely necessary. In particular, we will provide guidance to our elected officials on crafting a response that protects the populations most vulnerable to harm, including working people, immigrants, and those involved in the criminal legal system.

Here you will find information about the ACLU’s response to COVID-19, including news updates, blog posts, guidelines, and letters to public officials—as well as other resources. Above all, the ACLU of Massachusetts believes:

  • Any coronavirus response should be grounded in science and public health, and not be politicized
  • Any response plan must protect the health, safety, and civil liberties of all
  • State leaders should encourage voluntary compliance with self-isolation measures as much as possible
  • If leaders want to be effective in limiting the transmission of coronavirus, they will need to pay particular attention to the most vulnerable people in our society

Incarcerated people

People in jail are highly vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses. State and local law enforcement including the attorney general, district attorneys, and local police should reduce the number of people in state custody in order to prevent the virus from entering a prison or jail.


Nobody should be afraid to seek medical care for fear of immigration enforcement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stated that it does not conduct enforcement operations at medical facilities, except under extraordinary circumstances. In addition, ICE should halt immigration detentions to limit the spread of the virus in jails and detentions centers and to limit the hardships that the virus causes for immigrant communities.

Working people

In order to encourage all people to cooperate with health officials and public health guidelines, government and employers must ensure that people are protected from job loss and economic hardship. Government and employers must provide social and economic protection including strong paid family and medical leave policies and income support.

We will update this page as the situation develops. See below for more resources.


Blog Posts



March 31 - SJC hears arguments over releasing some inmates during the pandemic (Boston Globe)

March 30 - For those in jail, COVID-19 could be death sentence (Commonwealth, written by executive director Carol Rose)

March 28 - ICE releases 2 detainees for health concerns (Associated Press)

March 25 - Trump Administration Urged to Free Migrants From Detention as Virus Surges (Associated Press)

March 25 - Releasing ICE Detainee, Judge Says Jail No Safer Than Court (Law360)

March 24 - ACLU of Mass., CPCS and defense lawyers ask SJC to release defendants held pretrial in effort to curb COVID-19 outbreaks (MassLive)

March 19 - Suffolk DA Takes Steps To Release 'Vulnerable' Inmates Amid Outbreak (WBUR)

March 19 - Suffolk district attorney’s office is identifying most ‘vulnerable’ jail inmates for release (Boston Globe)

March 19 - Mass. ACLU calls on ICE to halt detentions during coronavirus outbreak (

March 18 - The coronavirus pandemic is changing how some Mass. authorities process certain crimes (Boston Globe)

March 18 - ACLU of Massachusetts urges release of inmates ‘particularly vulnerable’ to COVID-19 with short prison sentences (MassLive)

March 16 - Advocates, Attorneys Call For Immediate Release Of Non-Criminal Immigrants In ICE Custody (WBUR)

March 16 - At ICE Boston office, all scheduled immigration check-ins happening by phone (Boston Globe)

March 16 - In battling coronavirus, we can be both safe and free (Boston Globe, written by executive director Carol Rose)