Correction Department cries out for oversight

Correction Department cries out for oversight

With officer brutality and discipline shrouded in secrecy, the need for an independent eye is obvious.

The Boston Globe
By the Editorial Board
December 1, 2021

When brutality happens not on a city street but behind prison walls, there’s no citizen with a cellphone to record the abuse of authority, and often no bystander to bear witness to the truth.

There’s only the black hole of official silence, where any punishment for acts of brutality by prison guards remains cloaked in layers of bureaucracy and redacted reports.

Case in point: the actions and conduct of Sergeant Mark O’Reilly, K9 commander for the state’s prison system, on a January day in 2020 when O’Reilly and his patrol dog were on duty during a lockdown at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Massachusetts.

The lockdown at the maximum-security facility followed an attack on correction officers in one Souza-Baranowski unit in which four guards were injured. The men allegedly responsible for the attack were transferred to other prisons.

“The backlash was immediate and harsh,” according to a complaint filed in federal court on behalf of two inmates at Souza-Baranowski. Correction officials and prison administrators “conspired to retaliate against scores of Black and Latino prisoners who had nothing to do with the January 10th altercation, to send a clear message as to who was ‘in charge’ of SBCC, and to instill a sense of terror and fear of future retaliatory attacks on Black and Latino prisoners.”

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