Plan to downgrade supermax facility

The state prison chief is proposing major changes for three prisons, including a plan to reduce the security level at the maximum-security MCI-Cedar Junction and reserve Old Colony Correctional Center for mentally ill inmates.

Public Safety Secretary Kevin M. Burke must approve the plan, but the Department of Correction is preparing for changes at the Walpole prison by installing 400 bunk beds at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison in Shirley that opened in 1998.

“We believe that Cedar Junction, based on its design primarily, is better suited to be a reception unit,” said DOC Commissioner Harold W. Clarke in an interview with the Herald.

Under Clarke’s plan, new inmates would be classified to determine where they will serve their prison sentence at MCI-Cedar Junction, which would become a medium-security facility. The Department Disciplinary Unit, which is a part of the Cedar Junction prison, would not be affected.

MCI-Concord, where the classification process takes place, would maintain its medium-security status and Old Colony, a medium-minimum security prison in Bridgewater, would take mentally ill inmates. Those inmates are scattered throughout the state system.

“We think that would be economical to do so, cost-effective to do so and release the stressors of staff and others at other facilities,” Clarke said of the plan for Old Colony. The DOC does not know how many mentally ill inmates could be relocated under the proposal.

Last month, the Herald reported that prison officials were installing bunk beds at Souza-Baranowski, a 500,000-square-foot prison with 1,024 general-population single cells, 128 special management cells and 24 health service beds.

Steve Kenneway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, said double-bunking can spark trouble.

“They are protesting the double-bunking of the maximum because they don’t want roommates,” said Kenneway. “It is the worst idea that they could ever think of. There may be more assaults but there also may be more deaths.”

Clarke said the Souza’s cells were built to be double-bunked and it is common practice nationwide to double-bunk inmates at maximum-security prisons.

“Crowding is causing us to have a need for that space at Souza,” he said. “Quite frankly, across the United States today they are double-bunking maximum-security offenders.”

source

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1125013

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One Response to “Plan to downgrade supermax facility”

  1. We as a department are under staff by some 500 plus officers state wide. Double bunking SBCC is a bad idea with such a staffing issue. Did they forget the John Geoghan case we were short staff then with single cells, what a nightmare this will be.

    Wapole. it’s about time they down class that hell hole, hopefully that will bring the assaults down over there. assaults have been happening weekly over there. You just don’t hear about it sad.

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