BOSTON (AP) — The highest court in Massachusetts has rejected a claim that county jails across the state violated the due process rights of inmates during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state public defenders agency and the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the sheriffs who run the jails failed to implement regular across-the-board COVID-19 testing, and that they had not adequately followed an earlier court ruling to reduce their inmate populations, The Salem News reported.

The Supreme Judicial Court in Tuesday’s decision acknowledged the risks COVID-19 posed to inmates, but said under the circumstances, the responses of the 13 county sheriffs “are not unreasonable.”

“COVID came with unprecedented challenges for facilities like ours and we knew we would not escape the clutches of this dangerously virulent illness, but we prepared the best we could to ensure the safety of all who work and live here,” Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger said in an email. “We listened to the experts. We adapted how we do business. We cleaned and sanitized 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we weathered the storm.”

The public defender’s agency, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, had no response to the decision on Tuesday, a spokesperson said.

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