DOJ Investigation Finds Mass. DOC Violating Rights Of Some Inmates

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Office of the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division said Tuesday that some prisons is Massachusetts are violating some inmates's 8th Amendment rights.

Federal authorities said that some incarcerated people were not being provided with adequate mental health care.

A two-year investigation by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling's Office and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division found that in many cases, instead of getting the help they needed, these inmates faced conditions that made things worse, which sometimes led to suicide.

"The conditions at MDOC facilities show how systemic deficiencies in prison facilities can compound each other and amount to constitutional violations," U.S. Attorney Lelling said. "MDOC has cooperated with our investigation from the beginning and we look forward to working with state prison authorities to implement reform measures."

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The report says these are constitutional violations but there are no criminal charges.

In statement, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections said that they are continuing to "work closely with the DOJ and has already begun to address the issues raised in the report and maintain the significant progress we have already made."

"As the report indicates, investigators found no violations in the use of restrictive housing for inmates or in the geriatric and palliative medical care provided to all inmates," a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections said. "The Department remains deeply committed to the health and well-being of all entrusted to our care and fully invested in protecting their physical safety and civil rights."

The ACLU of Massachusetts said they "not surprised" by the report.

"Far too many people are incarcerated in conditions that threaten their health, safety, and human dignity on a daily basis," Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said. "From providing adequate mental health care to slowing the spread of COVID-19, Massachusetts must do more to save the lives of people in jails and prisons. Above all, Massachusetts must downsize the footprint of its criminal legal system of the sake of public health and justice."

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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