Classification & Parole

Ferreira v. Spencer, et al. – This case challenges DOC’s disciplinary and classification response to prisoners found with cell phones. Currently, DOC’s practice is to charge the prisoner with a level 2 offense: Possession of Tools Likely to be Used in an Escape. Upon guilty finding, prisoners are then reclassified and scored under the Classification Manual as having an escape history. All of this occurs even where there is absolutely no evidence or suggestion that the phone was being used for an escape or escape plan. On October 1, 2013, the Court ruled in favor of the prisoner, declaring that the guilty finding must be vacated because there was no evidence that Ferreira was using the cell phone to plan an escape. Although we have learned that DOC has stopped treating several other prisoners as escape risks based on possession of a cell phone, we will monitor how DOC treats prisoners found with cell phones to determine if further litigation is necessary.

Archer v. Chairman, Massachusetts Parole Board Challenge to Parole Board’s parole revocation procedures for second degree lifers. Although the Supreme Court and the Board’s own regulations provide that parolees should have a revocation hearing within 60 days of return to custody, under the Board’s practice, hearings are routinely delayed for more than six months, and prisoners frequently wait for more than a year before receiving a decision. A hearing on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss was held on July 15, 2014 and we are still awaiting the decision.