April 14, 2024

Native Information

“This closing will little doubt place our officers all through the Commonwealth in grave hazard,” the correction officers union warned.

An aerial view of MCI-Harmony jail, which opened in 1878. David L Ryan/Boston Globe Employees, File

Correction officers are urging Gov. Maura Healey to press pause on plans to shut MCI-Harmony, a transfer they are saying might pressure the state’s different prisons and put officers and inmates in danger.

Healey’s administration introduced earlier this week that MCI-Harmony, Massachusetts’s oldest males’s jail, will shut by this summer season amid a decline within the state jail inhabitants. MCI-Harmony is at the moment working at 50% capability with a inhabitants of about 300 inmates.

In a Wednesday press launch, the state’s Division of Correction predicted that closing the jail will save almost $16 million in working prices and negate the necessity for $190 million in capital initiatives and deferred upkeep on the facility, which opened in 1878.

“The strategic consolidation of assets eliminates redundancies and empowers us to boost effectivity and guarantee a more practical and impactful correctional system for our incarcerated inhabitants, the individuals who work there, and the group,” DOC Commissioner Carol Mici mentioned in a press release Wednesday. 

  • State’s oldest operating males’s jail is shutting down in Harmony

  • Most-security jail in Walpole to shut as incarceration charges drop

But the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union took a tough stance towards the closure, asserting that closing MCI-Harmony or another state facility “will burden our already violent and harmful prisons.” 

Citing the chance that larger threat inmates might be relocated to decrease degree amenities, they requested Healey to halt the closure till a complete transition plan is in place. Closing a correctional facility and disposing of the property requires the state Legislature’s approval, the DOC defined in its press launch Wednesday.

“It’s simple for the Governor, and her employees to chop, scale back and eradicate state packages and amenities, however the true take a look at of management and administration comes with options and solutions to these cuts, which has been conspicuously absent from the administration,” the union’s government board mentioned in a press release. “This closing will little doubt place our officers all through the Commonwealth in grave hazard.”

The union expanded on these considerations in a letter to Healey Thursday, with legislative consultant Kevin Flanagan noting that the union noticed a “great improve” in assaults on employees and inmates after MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole closed and its inmates had been transferred to Souza-Baranowski Correctional Middle in Lancaster.

“We perceive that the variety of inmates is down from years previous however the inmates which are at the moment incarcerated are a few of [the] most harmful and violent offenders,” Flanagan wrote. “Harmony closing can be the fourth jail in three years, and that stretches the system too skinny, with no viable plan to accommodate these most harmful inmates. This is able to power larger safety inmates to co-mingle with lesser safety inmates and place them in danger.”

The union requested for a seat on the desk when it comes time to categorise inmates, in order to “be sure that inmates with violent or disruptive conduct not be categorised to decrease safety amenities simply to create space,” per the letter.

Based on the DOC, closing MCI-Harmony will unencumber about 330 employees members who might assist alleviate staffing and additional time points inside the state’s correctional system.

“Commissioner Mici and the DOC management workforce are deeply dedicated to working intently with workers and their union representatives to handle any security considerations and to make sure a good and equitable relocation of all affected employees to different amenities,” a DOC spokesperson mentioned in a press release. “We’re grateful to our corrections employees for his or her laborious work and repair.”

The spokesperson added: “As we proceed to form the way forward for our company, we’re assured that collectively we are able to take this important step to eradicate redundancies, improve effectivity and guarantee a more practical and impactful correctional system whereas nonetheless guaranteeing the protection of our employees and incarcerated people.”

MCOFU Letter to Gov. Healey by Abby Patkin on Scribd