Disability laws apply to prisoners seeking parole, SJC rules

May 16th, 2017

May 16, 2017
Boston Globe
By John R. Ellement

The state’s highest court Monday extended the Americans with Disabilities Act to mentally and physically disabled prisoners seeking parole, ruling that the state must help them get support systems in place in the community.

The Supreme Judicial Court, in a unanimous ruling, wrote that the federal law aimed at ensuring equal access and services for the disabled in Massachusetts and the nation also applies to inmates serving sentences in state and county correctional systems.

James R. Pingeon, who filed a brief in support of Crowell on behalf of Prisoners’ Legal Services and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, wrote in an e-mail that the ruling will allow law enforcement to focus on serious violent offenders.

“Very pleased with the SJC decision,’’ he wrote. “Prison beds should be reserved for people who are truly dangerous and not wasted on prisoners with disabilities who could live safely in the community if the parole board would help them find appropriate housing and services.”

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WGBH / New England Center for Investigative Reporting: MA County Jail Suicides

May 15th, 2017

Mary 6-10, 2017
WGBH / New England Center for Investigative Reporting

May 6: Behind the Wall: Suicides Mount in Massachusetts County Jails
By Jenifer McKim and Shaz Sajadi

May 7: Suicides in County Jails Are All Too Common
By Chris Burrell

May 8: Why Is The Suicide Rate In Bristol County Jails So High?
By Chris Burrell

May 10: County Jails Have Turned Into Psychiatric Hospitals, Sheriffs Say
By Chris Burrell

May 10: How Hampden County Is Working To Prevent Inmate Suicides
By Chris Burrell

Following Hernandez’s Death, A Discussion Of Suicide In Custody

April 19th, 2017

April 19, 2017
By Deborah Becker

Leslie Walker, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services, joins WBUR to discuss Aaron Hernandez’s suicide in his prison cell.

Listen here or on the WBUR website:

Aaron Hernandez’s reported mode of suicide unusual for prison

April 19th, 2017

April 19, 2017
The Boston Globe

The executive director of the statewide inmate-advocate organization said she believes Aaron Hernandez’s death is the first reported successful suicide by an inmate hanging a sheet from a window at the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski prison, as authorities say Hernandez did.

Leslie Walker, executive director of the nonprofit Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, which serves indigent inmates, said the state had a worse-than-average inmate suicide rate a decade ago but had done some work to “suicide proof” its facilities, such as installing clothing hooks that collapse if too much weight is placed on them.

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Further reading: Mass. has a troubled record on prison suicides

Play About Solitary Confinement To Be Performed At State House Tuesday

March 27th, 2017

March 25, 2017
CBS Boston

A play that prisoners’ rights advocates hope will raise awareness about the practice of solitary confinement is coming to the Massachusetts State House this week.

Julia Steele Allen will perform her play “Mariposa and the Saint,” which tells the story of Sara “Mariposa” Fonseca’s experience in solitary confinement through the prisoner’s own words, for the Massachusetts State Legislature at noon Tuesday.

The advocacy group Prisoners’ Legal Service hopes the play raises awareness about the use of solitary confinement in Massachusetts, one of only three states that allows prisoners to be held in solitary confinement for up to 10 years for a single disciplinary infraction.

Read more here…

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