Conditions of Confinement

extreme conditions of confinement

We have compiled some information about unsanitary conditions of confinement for your reference. This should serve as a starting point for your research. The following is not intended to be viewed as legal advice.

The Supreme Court has said that the Eighth Amendment (and the Fourteenth Amendment) requires prison officials to provide humane conditions of confinement. That obligation includes a responsibility to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and more in the prison or jail setting.

medical care

Our medical & mental health care advocacy teams work with clients to help with some of the following topics:

  • medical attention and evaluation for clinical diagnoses to determine appropriate courses of treatment
  • specialist care
  • necessary medication (specifically ensuring the DOC provides medication as prescribed)
  • follow up treatment as per outside medical professionals’ recommendations
  • continuity of care

For more information please visit our healthcare page.

phones and visitation

For more information about your rights and resources on phone access/visitation please visit our visitation page.

safe temperatures

“The district court found that air temperatures above 85° F greatly increase the risk of heat-related illnesses for individuals who take psychotropic medications.”  Graves v. Arpaio, 623 F.3d 1043, 1048 (9th Cir. 2010).

Each facility should provide heating for every cell, bathroom and toilet compartment, and other habitable area, at a temperature of at least 68°F, between 7:00 A.M. and 11:00 P.M, and at least 64°F, between 11:01 P.M. and 6:59 A.M., every day other than during the period from June 15th to September 15th, inclusive, in each year. The temperature should at no time exceed 78°F during the heating season. For each degree below 15° below 0°F that the temperature falls, the minimum temperature requirement may likewise be reduced by 1°F. The temperature is read at a height of three feet above floor level at any point in the room more than two feet from the inside of every exterior wall.” (Mass. Regs. Code tit. 105, § 451.330, 105 MA ADC 451.330)

Those with concerns about unsafe temperatures may file a grievance with the prison administration about the problem and submit an appeal if the grievance is denied. You can also write a letter to the Department of Public Health telling them of this violation and asking for help in fixing it. You should give all details that you have about the problem. The address to write to is:

unsanitary conditions

Those with concerns about unsanitary conditions may file a grievance with the prison administration about the problem and submit an appeal if the grievance is denied.

First, you should determine whether the problem you have identified is a violation of the Department of Public Health regulations governing prisons and jails. If the problem is a violation of that code, you should be sure to state the specific regulation that it violates in the grievance you file with the prison. We have included several links to regulations below for your reference.

You can also write a letter to the Department of Public Health telling them of this violation and asking for help in fixing it. You should give all details that you have about the problem. The address to write to is:

Division of Community Sanitation
Department of Public Health
305 South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-3597

If you have additional questions or concerns that you would like assistance with, please call us during our intake hours on Monday (or Tuesday if Monday is a holiday):

1:00pm – 4:00pm

or write us a letter to:

50 Federal Street
4th Floor
Boston, MA 02110


PRISONERS’ LEGAL SERVICES

50 Federal St., 4th Floor, Boston MA 02110