Mass. DOC Moves To End Solitary Confinement


June 30, 2021
By Deborah Becker

The Massachusetts Department of Correction says it is taking steps to end restrictive housing, which it defines as a prisoner being held in a cell for more than 22 hours a day.

The move follows an independent report that recommended ending the practice as it’s currently defined, as well as other changes.

The department says it will eliminate restrictive housing in all prisons over the next three years. Instead, the DOC says it will address disruptive behavior by focusing on the needs of those in its custody and will connect prisoners with “appropriate programming and treatment opportunities” and “identify the behavioral and clinical criminogenic needs of those within the Department’s care.”

The DOC says it is still evaluating the costs involved.

The independent report by Falcon Correctional and Community Services, Inc. says with the exception of prisoners who are documented to behave dangerously, no prison housing unit should operate “under conditions of confinement that require placement in a cell 22 or more hours per day.”

The report says doing away with restrictive housing “represents the future of disciplinary and administrative segregation,” and notes that the DOC has already reduced the number of beds for men in its restrictive housing units by 20% since July 2019. There is no restrictive housing for women in state custody.

“The Department of Correction has worked hard to develop creative solutions to the challenge of restrictive housing, Falcon’s independent analysis is a crucial step toward long-term, lasting change,” said DOC Commissioner Carol Mici in a statement. “While this report offers us a detailed roadmap, our continued relationship with Falcon will strengthen our ability to deliver the best correctional practices.”

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