THEY’VE BEEN GRANTED PAROLE. SO WHY CAN IT TAKE YEARS FOR THEM TO GET OUT OF PRISON?
July 8, 2020
The Boston Globe
By Jenifer B Kim
The Department of Corrections sometimes doesn’t release prisoners until long after they’re approved for parole. Many then are sent back for minor missteps.
Nearly 10 years ago, Wilfred Dacier was told he would be a free man. But for Dacier, now 63, his view continued to be a little corner of the town of Gardner that changed only with the seasons. The positive vote he received from the Massachusetts Parole Board in 2010 did not result in his release from the North Central Correctional Institution. That’s nominally because Dacier has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, and the parole board made his release conditional upon him moving to a secure facility run by the state Department of Mental Health, which repeatedly declined to give him housing. But Dacier’s incarceration for nearly a decade after being granted parole offers us Exhibit A of why many say the Massachusetts Parole Board is ripe for reform.
Consider the reason why mental health officials did not take Dacier: After examining him, they found in 2011 that his condition did not warrant being housed in a secure facility. That would seem to be good news for Dacier and for Massachusetts taxpayers, who pay for our prisons. The parole board, though, rescinded its decision to grant Dacier parole, worried about where he could go. Board members then refused to relent for years, despite a 2015 report from a psychologist, appointed by the board, that found Dacier could gradually transition to the community without the support of the Department of Mental Health. Frustrated, Dacier took his case to the Suffolk County Superior Court, where a judge in September 2019 found the board had penalized him because of his mental illness — finally prompting change.