Dukes County Jail has COVID outbreak

Four inmates tested positive for COVID-19 at the Dukes County jail. -MV Times

Four inmates at the Dukes County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, which amounts to one-quarter of the inmate population that was housed at the facility at the time, Heather Arpin, a spokesperson for Dukes County Sheriff Robert Ogden, said Friday. Two staff members have also tested positive.

As a result of the cases, the sheriff’s department “has implemented a stringent procedure for inmate movement and COVID-isolation protocols,” Arpin wrote in an email responding to a Times inquiry. “Since the height of the pandemic, all newly admitted individuals have entered the facility beginning with an eight-day quarantine and COVID-19 testing prior to entering [the] general population. Of the four inmates currently testing positive, one tested positive upon admission, and has remained in quarantine. Currently, two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19; both staff members are out on leave,” Arpin wrote.

The positive COVID cases at the jail come as the Island is considered at “high risk” for community spread, according to the Island boards of health daily report issued on Thursday.

Arpin wrote that a facility lockdown procedure has been implemented “to mitigate community spread within the jail and house of correction.” She added that the jail has personal protective equipment available.
Arpin also shared a summary of the COVID-related procedures that are in place.

  • All staff and inmates are required to wear KN95 masks. 
  • COVID isolation protocols for inmate positive cases include housing, recreation, phone access, and showering plans, to ensure confirmed positive or symptomatic individuals are in separate housing units from the general population. 
  • Officers entering isolation units will be required to wear masks and gloves, and use a face shield.
  • Air purifiers are used in COVID isolation units. 
  • Staff members are screened to include temperature checks prior to admittance into the facility.
  • Infection control protocols involve cleaning contact surfaces three times each day.
  • In-person visits are suspended.
  • Services such as recreation, laundry, phone access have individual protocols to ensure disinfecting of surfaces and social distancing to include time slots for use. 
  • In-person programs are suspended; however other programming continues via Edovo tablets.
  • Meals will be delivered to inmates’ cells.

In a message to The Times on Saturday, Dukes County Sheriff Robert Ogden wrote, “We have a full-time licensed registered nurse on our staff, who has worked in our facility since 2018, a full-time human service officer who manages each case, and a contracted on-call doctor. We also have ready access to in-house COVID vaccines and boosters, and our justice-involved individuals are monitored 24 hours a day. I believe it is safe to say, after caring for this population through the global pandemic, my team has become quite adept at managing illness in our facility.”



  1. I hope these folks are being properly treated by a medical team and have access all appropriate medical care while incarcerated both for their health and the health of the island. Not all Covid cases are like and must be treated on a case by case basis.

  2. This wouldn’t happen to be the same Sheriff Bob Ogden, who at the outbreak of the pandemic and Massachusetts was trying to release as many residents as they could on home supervision to prevent unavoidable close proximity, joined a legal action with other Massachusetts Sheriffs to prevent that policy?
    The Sheriff claimed they were safer behind the bucolic walls of the Dukes County House of insurrection.
    Let me say in the nicest possible way, that was thinking consistent with being an idiot.
    Release non-violent offenders on home supervision so they at least have a fighting chance to save themselves. It’s obvious Bob Ogden is incapable of that.

    • James Kozak Let me get this straight, are you saying you’re upset because the Sheriff didn’t release criminal offenders into the community during covid? Isn’t it the Sheriff’s job to contain and secure this population from the general public? Who would be blamed if one of the formerly incarcerated decided to re-offend?

      • Dan, for the most part the jail does not house convicts.
        People are held without being found guilty.
        The blame for an offense belongs to the offender.
        Are you a fan of keeping people in jail based on a Police report?
        A TPD report?

        • You are changing the subject. I am not saying that people should be arrested and held without being afforded due process. A speedy hearing before a judge is afforded to everyone and a reasonable opportunity to make bail. They all have a right to an attorney. Those contained within the jail have been afforded due process. Many have been convicted of serious crimes. Some are awaiting a hearing without bail due to acts of violence. Once they are in jail, the purpose is detainment. The Sheriff shouldn’t be second-guessing the system. His duty is to contain the people he is assigned to detain.

          • Dan, I did not change the subject.
            I am one of those awful people who think that jail is punishment.
            That no one should be punished until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
            Non violent equals no bail.

  3. Yes James, let’s release ALL no-violent offenders. This includes hackers/scammers, theives, and drivers under the influence; just to name a few. The community will be much safer this way. While we are at it, let’s release the fentanyl dealers if no one has gotten sick on thier supply. In fact, let’s let every criminal run free with no fear of consequences. What could go wrong?

  4. I am saying non violent, pretrial arrestees, who are still innocent till proven guilty, ought to be released, under supervision or home confinement, till they are actually determined to be guilty and sentenced to incarceration.
    You know as well as I do, the number of MV residents who are in the “justice feeding trough”.
    Exposing innocent prisoners to Covid violates their Constitutional rights.

    • How are their Constitutional Rights violated? Don’t commit crime, have a long criminal history or a history of defaulting and you won’t end up held in jail.

        • Just because you haven’t been found guilty doesn’t mean you aren’t guilty. This is why there is bail. The eighth amendment to the Constitution prohibits excessive bail. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay, the right to a lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to know who your accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against you. However, you can be held in jail without a guilty finding. This happens all the time and is not per se unconstitutional provided that the detained individual has been afforded due process.

  5. How many times do I have to write this before it gets through your thick heads?
    Pre-trial arrestees, are guilty of nothing.
    They remain innocent till proven guilty at trial.
    Releasing nonviolent arrestees on supervised oversight until trial, removes them from exposure to Covid in Bob Ogdens House of Horrors, as well as Massachusetts being responsible for their medical bills if they do catch Covid.
    Someone needs to put down the pipe and actually read the proposal.

    • Once again Kozak , how many times do I have to say it. Innocent before proven guilty is a judicial concept for a court of law . Ordinary citizens are not required to believe that. In fact since most indictments and arrest end in guilty,we the people would be crazy to believe everyone is innocent.

      • andy– unless of course, they are “patriots” intent on murdering members of congress and hanging the Vice president of the United states and subverting the peaceful transfer of power.

    • Did you read the decision? It says people are entitled to a speedy bail hearing, it doesn’t say that the Sheriff has the authority to release people on his/her own discretion because of covid. There is no evidence that the Dukes Sheriff violated or ignored the decision. You should read a decision before you decide to invoke it. Here is the actual decision.

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