Prisoners at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center on Lockdown after Disturbance

January 10th, 2017

Updated: January 13, 2017 – 1:15pm

According to Superintendent Steve Silva, Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center is open today for all purposes, but those prisoners held in M2 are not yet allowed normal privileges. M2 is currently housing P1 prisoners but administrators hope to finish interviewing the last couple of prisoners very soon, after which that block can be opened as well.

Phones were off during the disturbance on January 9th but should be functioning normally at this point. Some reported that CPCS, PREA, PLAP, and family calls were blocked, and the superintendent is looking into this in case glitches are causing the problem.

PLS attorneys are at SBCC today and will update here with any further information.

Updated: January 12, 2017 – 11:15am

South Side visits at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center are resuming today (1/12/17). North Side visits are still not permitted. Attorneys are able to visit most prisoners, but require permission to visit a select group who PLS suspects are people who were in the P1 unit on January 9th, the scene of Monday’s unrest.

PLS has not received any phone calls from prisoners at Souza-Baranowski since Monday so it is assumed that phone privileges are either restricted or prohibited currently.

PLS staff are planning to visit the facility on Friday 1/13/17 and will update afterward.

Updated: January 10, 2017 – 11:00am

Prisoners’ Legal Services is aware of and actively investigating a disturbance at Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, which began in the afternoon of January 9th, 2017 and has resulted in the lockdown of the entire facility. The incident involved 47 prisoners according to media reports.

Thankfully, current news reports indicate no injuries to either staff or prisoners and it is our hope that this is accurate.

PLS attorneys are not currently permitted to enter the facility but will update this page with information as it becomes available.

Media reports:

It’s time to fix solitary confinement, before more abuse occurs

January 9th, 2017

By Adrian Walker
The Boston Globe
January 9, 2017

The enduring appeal of solitary confinement as an option is easy to understand. It seems to make sense that removing troublesome criminals from the general population might deter bad behavior, or at least make it easier to manage.

But that isn’t what the evidence suggests. States that have reduced solitary confinement have seen no rise in prison violence. Furthermore, prisoners who are held in solitary often display worse behavior when they are finally released from it. Mentally ill patient need treatment. Solitary confinement is the exact opposite of treatment.

“Reducing long-term solitary confinement is a benefit in a lot of ways,” said Leslie Walker, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services. “Violence in prison goes down, and we’re not torturing people in boxes.”

Read more…

Mass. prisons call it solitary. The UN calls it torture.

January 9th, 2017

The Boston Globe
January 6, 2017

The Hollywood version of solitary confinement — think of Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape” — doesn’t capture the real brutality of the practice. Prolonged isolation is so damaging to prisoners that the United Nations considers solitary that exceeds 15 days to be a form of torture. When two Massachusetts state senators requested permission to spend just 24 hours in solitary at one of the Commonwealth’s prisons, in order to witness the practice firsthand, they were told it wouldn’t be safe. It may not be possible to eliminate completely, but legislation to make solitary confinement much rarer and much shorter needs to be part of the state’s ongoing criminal justice reform initiative.

The practice has come under renewed scrutiny recently amid reports that the state improperly sent eight mentally ill prisoners to solitary confinement, apparently in violation of a 2012 commitment not to put sick prisoners in solitary. But even if the state were abiding by that modest agreement, it would leave openthe larger question of when and whether solitary confinement should be used in Massachusetts prisons at all. Excessive time in solitary can cause inmates to become unstable and depressed; they often suffer from panic, hallucinations, paranoia, and rage.

Read more…

Critics: Hodgson’s plan to send inmates to build Trump’s wall ‘absurd’

January 6th, 2017

By Brian Fraga
Enterprise News
January 6, 2017

FALL RIVER – Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s offer to have inmates build President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed border wall generated national headlines and plenty of reaction Thursday in the press and in social media.

The sheriff’s critics say that was all by design.

“It sounds to me like it’s a publicity stunt at the expense of our clients, which is not atypical for the sheriff,” said Leslie Walker, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services, a Boston-based legal organization that advocates for Massachusetts prisoners’ civil and due process rights.

Eva Millona, executive director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, described Hodgson’s proposal as “political theater.”

Read more…

State should examine solitary confinement

January 5th, 2017

The Boston Globe
January 5, 2017

The allegations in the latest Spotlight follow-up, based on a Prisoners’ Legal Services report, are serious enough to merit a state investigation into whether prison officials may have circumvented a state policy against placing mentally ill prisoners into solitary confinement. Based on the group’s findings, it would appear that prison officials put eight prisoners with documented histories of mental illness into solitary by changing or downgrading their original diagnoses to less severe conditions in all but two of the cases. That practice could potentially be unethical for a medical professional; it may also violate state law.

Read more…

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