The man who has declared that all Massachusetts residents must wear a face mask or some sort of face-covering effective tomorrow or face sanctions is suddenly sympathetic towards a cadre of illegal immigrants, whose riotous behavior resulted in an estimated $25,000 in damage to the Bristol County House of Corrections in Dartmouth on Friday night because they didn't want to be tested for COVID-19.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker displayed wobbly knees on the issue when questioned by reporters during his Monday coronavirus update at the State House by suggesting that we shouldn't be so quick to judge the inmates, one of whom caused injury to Sheriff Tom Hodgson by hitting him with a chair.

"What I would say is, there is a whole series of back-and-forths going on with respect to what happened there and people need to be careful about drawing conclusions one way or another," Baker said.

So the guy that is demanding that we wear masks in public is now somehow soft on federal immigration inmates who might not want to be tested for COVID-19.

"We've had to discipline some people for not being tested in places where they should probably be tested," he said. "But the fact of the matter is, not everybody wants to be tested, even people who you would think would consider that to be an appropriate thing given their role and their responsibility."

The judiciary has released 830 prisoners on to the streets of Massachusetts just since April 3, including two men accused of raping children. The State Supreme Judicial Court says it is inhuman to expose the inmates to the coronavirus by keeping them incarcerated. The illegal immigrants who rioted at Unit B in Dartmouth had displayed symptoms of the virus but refused to be transferred to the medical unit for testing.

Sheriff Hodgson has a responsibility to make sure the remaining inmates and employees at the jail are not exposed to the virus and that involves testing those inmates who are symptomatic and removing them from the general population if they are in fact infected. It's too damn bad if the ICE detainees don't want to be tested.

Governor Charlie Baker's response in not backing the sheriff and his men is appalling and disgraceful.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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