Mass. DOC is making a mockery of new solitary confinement regulations

July 15th, 2019

The Boston Globe
July 15, 2019
Editorial Staff

What’s the state Department of Correction so afraid of?

Its new rules on the use of solitary confinement and a gag rule for an oversight committee charged with playing watchdog over its implementation are embarrassing for a state that was once a leader in prison reform.

If these “emergency regulations” are actually allowed to remain in effect, the Baker administration will have solidified its reputation as the least transparent since Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge occupied the Corner Office.

The rules in question stem from the trailblazing Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2018, which tackled a host of thorny issues, including use of solitary confinement — or “restrictive housing,” as it is known in corrections. Solitary confinement can be harsh punishment, and its use should be rare and strictly regulated. To that end, the law created due process procedures for those confined to their cells for more than 22 hours a day.

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