By Milton Valencia
The Boston Globe
October 12, 2016
series of proposed changes to Department of Correction guidelines has prisoner rights-advocates, and specifically the prisoners themselves, on edge.
The proposals include changes to department policies in prisoner mail, telephone and visitation privileges, including at the maximum security prison in Shirley, known as the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, where advocates say prisoner tensions are already high.
Prisoners’ rights advocates argue, though, that some of the proposals go too far in interfering with prisoners’ abilities to communicate with and spend time with family members, what the advocates called essential to help them rehabilitate from crime and reduce recidivism.
One of the proposals, for instance, would prevent young children from sitting on a prisoner’s lap. Advocates argued that a prisoner’s ability to see his or her child, and the child’s ability to physically embrace a parent, should be allowed, at least for children under 5.
“This flies in the face of best practices regarding (prisoner) re-entry; the closer ties a prisoner has with the community he or she is returning to, the higher the likelihood of a successful re-entry and the lower the recidivism rate,” Walker said.