Violence complaints at prison spark calls for more oversight

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (AP) — Some Massachusetts lawmakers want more oversight of the state Department of Correction amid concerns about allegations of violence against prisoners at the state’s maximum security prison.

Democratic Sen. Jamie Eldridge, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, told WBUR that some lawmakers are growing frustrated at the lack of transparency in the state prison system.

Meanwhile, former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said he believes a federal investigation into complaints of abuse of inmates at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center is warranted.

“The problem with the prison setting is you’re dealing with a population that’s vulnerable because there’s very little visibility as to what happens there,” Lelling, who recently left the Justice Department for private practice, told WBUR.

Prisoners and advocates have alleged that inmates were mistreated and retaliated after a January 2020 fight at the maximum security prison in which three correction officers were hurt.

Several lawsuits have been filed, and the Department of Correction has denied the allegations of abuse.

“DOC expects all personnel to uphold the highest standards of respect, security, care and adhere to the Department’s Code of Conduct, and all allegations of staff misconduct are taken seriously and can be reported through multiple channels,” the department said in a statement. “The Department thoroughly investigates every allegation of staff misconduct brought to its attention.”

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