State Looks At Closing MCI-Framingham


December 17, 2019
WGBH: All Things Considered
By Arun Rath

Massachusetts is looking at the closure of the state’s main prison for women, MCI-Framingham, by 2024. The Department of Correction says the prison is in poor condition. It could shut it down and move female inmates to renovated units at an unused facility in Norfolk. Elizabeth Matos is the executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts. She spoke with WGBH All Things Considered anchor Arun Rath about the closure. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Arun Rath: MCI-Framingham opened in 1877. It’s undergone renovations since then, but can you just tell us what kind of shape this nearly 150-year-old prison is in?

Elizabeth Matos: It’s in pretty rough shape. We’ve heard complaints about the conditions at MCI-Framingham for a long time. There are mouse infestations. There have been repeated Department of Public Health violations. There have also been issues with cooling and heating systems, so in the winter, sometimes it’s chronically cold and in the summer, chronically too hot. And we’ve also had reports of uncleanliness and sanitation issues in the kitchens. So women have been complaining about the conditions there for a while. And one other issue, and the reason for some of the recent renovations, is there have been detections of PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls], and women have complained about other kind of toxins at the facility.

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