June 22, 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 Workers, File

Correction officers are urging Gov. Maura Healey to press pause on plans to shut MCI-Harmony, a transfer they are saying may 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 time 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 simpler and impactful correctional system for our incarcerated inhabitants, the individuals who work there, and the group,” DOC Commissioner Carol Mici stated in an announcement 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 in opposition to the closure, asserting that closing MCI-Harmony or some other state facility “will burden our already violent and harmful prisons.” 

Citing the chance that greater danger inmates might be relocated to decrease degree services, 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 straightforward for the Governor, and her workers to chop, cut back and get rid of state applications and services, 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 stated in an announcement. “This closing will little doubt place our officers all through the Commonwealth in grave hazard.”

The union expanded on these issues in a letter to Healey Thursday, with legislative consultant Kevin Flanagan noting that the union noticed a “super enhance” in assaults on workers and inmates after MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole closed and its inmates have been transferred to Souza-Baranowski Correctional Heart in Lancaster.

“We perceive that the variety of inmates is down from years previous however the inmates which might be 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 might power greater 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 certain that inmates with violent or disruptive conduct not be categorised to decrease safety services simply to create space,” per the letter.

In accordance with the DOC, closing MCI-Harmony will unlock about 330 workers members who may assist alleviate staffing and extra time points throughout the state’s correctional system.

“Commissioner Mici and the DOC management crew are deeply dedicated to working intently with staff and their union representatives to deal with any security issues and to make sure a good and equitable relocation of all affected workers to different services,” a DOC spokesperson stated in an announcement. “We’re grateful to our corrections workers for his or her onerous 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 get rid of redundancies, improve effectivity and guarantee a simpler and impactful correctional system whereas nonetheless guaranteeing the security of our workers and incarcerated people.”

MCOFU Letter to Gov. Healey by Abby Patkin on Scribd