Legislators, advocates call for Mass. prison reforms after Spotlight investigation into excessive force allegations
August 16, 2021
The Boston Globe
By Mark Arsenault
Advocates and legislators are calling for reforms to the Massachusetts prison system, in response to a Boston Globe Spotlight story on Sunday that highlighted a raft of excessive force allegations by prisoners at the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in early 2020.
“Our Constitution is designed to protect citizens from government-imposed punishment that is cruel and unusual, and that includes incarcerated individuals in the care of the state,” said Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services. “But as public defenders and our clients can tell you — what happens at Souza is cruel, brutal, and far from what should be allowed.”
The Spotlight story, “The Taking of Cell 15,” reported that prisoners and advocates allege that prison authorities were responsible for a wave of retributory violence against Souza prisoners, after four correction officers were hurt in an assault by some 20 prisoners in the facility’s N1 unit on Jan. 10, 2020. In the weeks after those assaults, complaints of excessive force at Souza increased nearly 30 times over the same period the year before, according to Prisoners’ Legal Services, a non-profit agency that advocates for incarcerated people.