Massachusetts Department of Correction Gives a Lesson in How to Get Around Solitary Confinement Reforms

November 20th, 2019

Solitary Watch
November 20, 2019
Katie Rose Quandt

In April 2018, advocates in Massachusetts celebrated the signing of the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA), which mandated changes throughout the state’s criminal justice system. Included among the reforms were some new restrictions on the use of solitary confinement, set to go into effect at the beginning of 2019.

But advocates say that instead of following the law’s provisions in earnest, the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) has done its best to circumvent the solitary reforms and weaken the law’s oversight mechanisms.

“They’re not complying with the letter of the law in some regards, and they’re avoiding the spirit of the law in other regards,” said Bonnie Tenneriello, a staff attorney at Prisoners Legal Services of Massachusetts (PLS). Her organization is pushing back against the DOC’s weak application of the CJRA’s solitary rules, alongside other advocacy organizations and some legislators.

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