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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Governor’s Commission on Corrections Reform

Strengthening Public Safety, Increasing
Accountability, and Instituting Fiscal
Responsibility in the Department of Correction

Mitt Romney
Governor

Kerry Healey
Lieutenant Governor

Edward A. Flynn
Secretary of Public Safety

Scott Harshbarger
Chairman

Final Report
June 30, 2004

GOVERNOR’S COMMISSION ON CORRECTIONS REFORM
One Ashburton Place, Room 2133, Boston, Massachusetts 02108

MITT ROMNEY
GOVERNOR

KERRY HEALEY
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
SCOTT HARSHBARGER
CHAIRMAN

June 30, 2004
The Honorable Mitt Romney
Governor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
State House
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Governor Romney:
I am pleased to present to you the report of the Governor’s Commission on Corrections Reform which you
asked me to chair last October. The report, entitled Strengthening Public Safety, Increasing Accountability, and
Instituting Fiscal Responsibility in the Department of Correction, is the product of eight months of hard work
and dedication by the Commission members who collectively represent a broad range of experience and
expertise in criminal justice, corrections, law enforcement, human services, and public safety.
I personally want to express my gratitude to the members of the Commission for the contribution of their time,
expertise, and energy to this critical public safety issue. In addition, the Commission would like to express our
deep appreciation for the exceptional work of the staff of the Commission, including Carolyn Walsh, Rebecca
Webb, Sarah Lawrence, Anne Piehl, and Joanne Scally.
This report, in response to your mandate to the Commission, is a comprehensive, top to bottom review of the
Department of Correction, including leadership and governance, operational systems, security, programs and
reintegration, and budget. Our report recommends significant systemic change. You will note that our findings
and recommendations are focused on identifying ways to enhance public safety, ensure fiscal responsibility, and
implement fair and just policies and practices, in the interest of inmates, staff, and the community. We are
pleased to report that one of our most positive findings is the level of performance demonstrated by Kathleen
Dennehy, Commissioner of Correction, and the leadership and vision of Edward Flynn, Secretary of Public
Safety. Continued exceptional leadership is required for effective implementation of our recommendations.
I believe that the work of your Commission, presented in this report, will make a significant contribution to the
Commonwealth’s efforts to improve public safety and fiscal efficiency. If our recommendations are
implemented, and the leadership of the Department is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, there is
immense potential for change in the culture, governance, and operations of the Department. This change will be
central to the Department’s ability to become a valued partner in the Commonwealth’s public safety efforts.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as Chair of this distinguished Commission.
Sincerely,

Scott Harshbarger

ACKNOWLEDEMENTS
The Governor’s Commission on Corrections Reform would like to express its gratitude to The Gardiner
Howland Shaw Foundation for its generous support of the Commission, and to The Boston Foundation for
funding the Commission’s research. This report could not have been produced without their financial support.
The Commission is very grateful to have received the cooperation and assistance of the Massachusetts
Department of Correction throughout this process. In particular, we would like to thank Commissioner
Kathleen Dennehy for speaking with the Commission on several occasions and for facilitating unimpeded access
to the Department’s institutions, staff, inmates, information and data. We would like to express our appreciation
to the many employees of the Department who guided Commission members through the facilities, consented to
be interviewed, completed surveys, testified before the Commission, and prepared materials for our use. We
particularly appreciate the efforts of Michael Thompson, Director of Offender Management and Placement, for
serving as the liaison between the DOC and the Commission and for coordinating accurate, thorough, and
prompt responses to the Commission’s many inquiries.
We would like to acknowledge the thoughtful insights shared by many current and former inmates of the
Department. The Commission learned a great deal from these individuals through testimony, focus groups, and
letters.
We appreciate the assistance and counsel of the Executive Office of Public Safety: Edward A. Flynn, Secretary;
Jane Tewksbury, Chief of Staff; Christine Cole, Deputy Chief of Staff; Jed Nosal, Deputy General Counsel; and,
especially, Patrick Bradley, Undersecretary of Criminal Justice.
The Commission would like to thank the three unions representing DOC employees for their testimony at the
public hearing and for speaking at the Commission meetings. They provided an important perspective on the
operations of the Department and its employees. The unions were represented by: David Pizzi, President, Public
Safety Chapter of S.E.I.U. Local 509; Steve Kenneway, President, Massachusetts Corrections Officers
Federated Union; and Captain Patrick DePaulo, International Brotherhood of Correctional Officers, Local R-110.
The Commission would like to express our appreciation to John Larivee, President and CEO, and the staff of
Community Resources for Justice for their guidance and valued support throughout this process.
We are grateful for the many vital contributions of attorney Kathryn M. Murphy of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and
Lehane, LLP.
We would like to acknowledge Leslie Walker and the staff of Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services for
their presentations at the public hearing and several Commission meetings, and for facilitating the
Commission’s communication with former and current inmates.
We appreciate the valuable contributions of many national correctional experts and administrators who provided
counsel to the Commission including: Morris Thigpen, Director of the National Institute of Corrections, U.S.
Department of Justice; Charles Kehoe, President of the American Correctional Association; Joseph Lehman,
Secretary of Corrections, Washington; Harold Clark, Director of Corrections, Nebraska and Vice President of
the American Correctional Association; Reginald A. Wilkinson, President of the Association of State
Correctional Administrators and Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction; and George
Vose, Executive Vice President, CiviGenics, former Commissioner of Correction in Massachusetts and Rhode
Island.

The Commission would also like to acknowledge the significant contributions of the following organizations
and individuals which were essential to the completion of this report:
Charles Arbing
Union Trustee
Stop & Shop Supermarket

Dennis Humphrey
Former DOC Associate Commissioner of
Programs and Treatment

Michael J. Ashe, Jr.
Sheriff, Hampden County Jail & House of
Correction

George Keiser
Chief, Community Correction Division
National Institute of Corrections

Valerie Benson
Northeastern University

John LaMontagne
Morrissey Communications

Andrea J. Cabral
Sheriff, Suffolk County House of Correction

Daniel LeClair
Chair, Criminal Justice Program at Boston
University

George Camp, Ph.D.
Criminal Justice Institute, Inc.
Francis Carney
Executive Director
Massachusetts Sentencing Commission
Edward V. Colbert, III
Looney & Grossman
Major Mark Delaney
Division of Investigative Service
Massachusetts State Police

Carmen C. Massimiano Jr.
Sheriff, Berkshire County Jail and House of
Correction
Joseph McGowan
Research & Legislative Affairs
Essex County Sheriffs Department
Chief Justice Robert A. Mulligan
Chair, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission
Arthur Murphy
Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane, LLP

Daniel F. DiTuillio
Chief of Staff
Office of Representative Harold P. Naughton, Jr.

Seth Ragosta
Murphy, Hesse Toomey & Lehane, LLP

Angela Frontiera
Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP

Paul Romary
CEO, Lemuel Shattuck Hospital

Jason Guida
Legislative, Legal Analyst & Staff to the
Committee on Public Safety
Office of Senator Jarrett Barrios

Michael Schachter
Harvard University

Martin F. Horn
Commissioner
New York City Correction Department

Jennifer L. Stonage
Northeastern University
Bishop Gilbert Thompson
Pastor, New Covenant Christian Church

Finally, we would like to thank those who participated in the public hearing on February 25, 2004 or submitted
written testimony, and the many other individuals who educated and assisted the Commission who are not
specifically mentioned above.

COMMISSION MEMBERS

Scott Harshbarger, Commission Chairman
Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane
2 Seaport Lane
Boston, MA 02210

Andre John
Ella J. Baker House
411 Washington Street
Dorchester, MA 02124

Honorable Jarrett Barrios
State Senator
Senate Chair, Public Safety Committee
State House, Room 309
Boston, MA 02133

Robert Lewis, Jr.
National Conference for Community & Justice
38 Chauncey Street
Boston, MA 02111

R. Michael Cassidy
Associate Professor
Boston College Law School
885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459
Elyse Clawson
Executive Director, Crime and Justice
Institute
355 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116-3313
Frank G. Cousins, Jr., Sheriff
Essex County Sheriff’s Department
20 Manning Avenue
Middleton, MA 01949
Michael V. Fair
Security Response Technologies, Inc.
161 South Main Street
Middleton, MA 01949
Robert Griffin
Law Office of Robert Griffin
30 Eastbrook Road, Room 301
Dedham, MA 02026

Joyce Murphy
President, Caritas Carney Hospital
2100 Dorchester Avenue
Dorchester, MA 02124
Honorable Harold P. Naughton, Jr.
State Representative
State House, Room 136
Boston, MA 02133
Martin R. Rosenthal
65A Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02110
Douglas H. Wilkins
Partner, Anderson and Kreiger LLP
43 Thorndike Street
Cambridge, MA 02133
Patrick Bradley, ex officio
Undersecretary of Criminal Justice
Executive Office of Public Safety
One Ashburton Place, Room 2133
Boston, MA 02108
Peter Flaherty, ex officio
Deputy Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office
State House, Room 350
Boston, MA 02133

COMMISSION STAFF
Carolyn K. Walsh
Executive Director
Rebecca Webb
Associate Director
Sarah Lawrence
Senior Policy Analyst
Joanne Scally
Executive Assistant

RESEARCH STAFF
Anne Morrison Piehl, Ph.D.
Research Director for the Commission
Associate Professor of Public Policy
Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
Stefan LoBuglio
Deputy Superintendent
Suffolk County House of Correction
Martha Lyman, Ed.D.
Director of Research
Hampden County Sheriff’s Department & Correctional Center
Robert Gaudet, Ed.D.
Senior Research Analyst
Donahue Institute
University of Massachusetts
Linda Holt
Research Director
Massachusetts Sentencing Commission

INTERN STAFF
Rebecca Katz
Boston College

COMMISSION WORKING GROUPS
GOVERNANCE
Michael V. Fair, Chair
Security Response Technologies, Inc.
Douglas H. Wilkins, Esquire
Partner, Anderson and Kreiger LLP
Honorable Jarrett Barrios
Senate Senator
Senate Chair, Public Safety Committee
Andre John
Ella J. Baker House
Elyse Clawson
Executive Director, Crime and Justice Institute

OPERATIONS
Frank G. Cousins, Jr., Sheriff, Chair
Essex County Sheriff’s Department
Robert Griffin, Esquire
Law Office of Robert Griffin
Honorable Harold P. Naughton, Jr.
State Representative
Kathleen Murphy, Esquire
World Trade Center East

SECURITY, PROGRAMS AND
REINTEGRATION
Joyce Murphy, Chair
President, Caritas Carney Hospital
R. Michael Cassidy
Associate Professor
Boston College Law School
Martin R. Rosenthal
Robert Lewis, Jr.
National Conference for Community & Justice

If nothing else, inmates must leave our custody with a belief that there is
moral order in their world. If they leave our care and control believing that
rules and regulations do not mean what they say they mean, that rules and
regulations can be applied arbitrarily or capriciously or for personal
interest, then we will fail society, we will fail them, and we will unleash
people more dangerous than when they went in.
Edward A. Flynn, Secretary
Executive Office of Public Safety
On February 3, 2004, at the public release
of the Administrative Investigation into the
death of John Geoghan

TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...................................................................................................................... i
I. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................. 1
II. LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY ........................................................................................... 5
FINDINGS ..................................................................................................................................... 5
RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................................................. 18
III. FISCAL MANAGEMENT ............................................................................................................. 22
FINDINGS ................................................................................................................................... 22
RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................................................. 27
IV. PUBLIC SAFETY AND INMATE REENTRY................................................................................... 30
FINDINGS ................................................................................................................................... 31
RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................................................. 47
V. FAIR AND CONSISTENT POLICIES AND PRACTICES ................................................................... 54
FINDINGS ................................................................................................................................... 54
RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................................................. 62
VI. FISCAL CONSIDERATIONS ........................................................................................................ 67
VII. CONCLUSION .......................................................................................................................... 71
APPENDIX I. COMMISSION ACTIVITIES AND SOURCES OF INFORMATION ........................................ 72
APPENDIX II. DOC CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES BY SECURITY LEVEL............................................ 75
APPENDIX III. OUTCOME - PERFORMANCE INDICATORS ................................................................ 76

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1. Operating Expenditures and Custody Population, 1994 – 2003..................................... 3
Figure 2. Department of Corrections New Beds and Closed Beds, 1990 – Present ...................... 7
Figure 3. Population by Security Level, 1994 - 2004. ................................................................... 8
Figure 4. Releases from Prison by Type of Release, 1990 and 2002 ............................................ 9
Figure 5. Overall DOC Budget, FY 2004 .................................................................................... 22
Figure 6. Contract Provisions: Correctional Officers Salary, 1986 –2003 .................................. 24
Figure 7: DOC Staffing Costs....................................................................................................... 25
Figure 8. Industrial Accident Direct Costs to DOC, FY 2003..................................................... 26
Figure 9. Division of Inmate Training and Education Budget, 1994 – 2004............................... 36
Figure 10. Type of Release, Males Released from DOC, 1990 to 2002....................................... 46

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

I

n Massachusetts, prisons are often viewed as little more than the “end of the line” for criminal
offenders. Some believe that once an individual is sent to prison, he or she no longer poses a
threat to public safety. Unfortunately, this view fails to consider the fact that the vast majority of
inmates in Massachusetts (97%) are eventually released to our communities. Many of those
released walk directly out of a maximum security facility onto the street. And most of those
released from prison do not have any ongoing monitoring or supervision. The public safety
consequences are alarming. Nearly one out of every two of those released will be convicted of a
new crime within just three years.1

Massachusetts can be doing a lot more to ensure that inmates come out of prison less dangerous
than they were when they went in. While punishment alone is a critical element to corrections
policy, any thoughtful system designed to protect the public must seek to curtail this continuous
cycle of re-offending.
Like other states, Massachusetts is facing rising costs in its correctional system. Across the
nation, states have explored and implemented broad reforms aimed at improving the safety and
efficiency of their corrections and criminal justice systems.2 It is time for Massachusetts to “get
smart” by moving meaningful reform to the forefront of the Commonwealth’s policy agenda.
We should take action in a comprehensive way that fully contemplates the interrelated
components of the criminal justice system. And we should take action in the name of public
safety and fiscal responsibility.3
The Governor’s Commission on Corrections Reform
Governor Mitt Romney has recognized the need for corrections reform in Massachusetts.
Shortly after assuming office, he and Executive Office of Public Safety Secretary Edward Flynn
announced the formation of two separate entities to examine the Department of Correction (the
“Department”). On September 4, 2003, the Governor formed a special panel to investigate the
circumstances and conditions surrounding the death of a high profile inmate, former priest John
Geoghan. Another inmate was later indicted for his murder. During the early part of this
investigation, it became clear that there was a need for a more expansive review of the system,
including the Department’s policies and procedures.4

1

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division Recidivism of 1997 Released
Department of Correction Inmates, (Concord, MA: Massachusetts Department of Correction, 2003), p. iii.
2
These include Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri. Major criminal justice policy reforms including corrections are
also presently being considered in New York, California, and Maryland.
3
Robin Campbell, Dollars & Sentences: Legislators' Views on Prisons, Punishment, and the Budget Crisis, (New
York: Vera Institute, 2003)
4
Major Mark F. Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly, and George Camp, Ph.D., Administrative Investigation; The Facts and
Circumstances Surrounding the Events Which Led to Inmate Geoghan’s Death on August 23, 2003, (Released on
February 3, 2004).

i

As a result, on October 17, 2003, Governor Romney established the Governor’s Commission on
Corrections Reform (the “Commission”) chaired by former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.
The mandate of this “Blue Ribbon” Commission was to conduct a comprehensive review of the
Department of Correction, including issues related to governance, operational systems,
programs, reentry, and budget. The Commission consists of 15 current and former corrections
officials, legislators, community leaders, and criminal justice experts. The Commissioners, who
met for an eight-month period on a volunteer basis, were divided into three working groups: (1)
governance; (2) operations; and (3) security, programs, and reintegration. The governance
working group focused on mission, management systems and structure, and labor relations. The
operations working group focused on classification, inmate discipline, investigations, and inmate
grievances. The security, programs, and reintegration working group focused on issues
surrounding prisoner reentry.
In developing its recommendations, the Commission conducted wide-ranging research on the
Department of Correction and on best practices throughout the country, keeping in mind at all
times budget and fiscal constraints. We reviewed approximately 300 documents, heard
testimony from nearly 25 key stakeholders at our 13 commission meetings, listened to testimony
from 38 speakers at a public hearing, conducted four focus groups which were comprised of
nearly 40 current inmates, conducted visits at 12 sites, surveyed superintendents and captains at
every facility and correction officers at six facilities, reviewed nearly 200 pieces of inmate
correspondence, interviewed numerous DOC staff members, administrators, and former inmates,
and reviewed literature and national research on corrections policy. In addition, the Chair
conducted personal meetings with a dozen correctional leaders in connection with the American
Correctional Association’s mid-winter meeting.
Since the establishment of the Commission, the Department has undergone changes in
management including the replacement of its commissioner. The current Commissioner,
Kathleen Dennehy, has instituted many changes since taking office in December, 2003,
including revising the Department’s vision, mission and values statements, and developing a
comprehensive strategic plan for the Department. This strategic plan sets forth short-term and
long-term action steps for addressing the systemic problems identified in the panel report, which
the Commission finds encouraging. We are pleased to acknowledge that Commissioner
Dennehy is in the process of addressing many of the concerns identified in this report.
To date, Commissioner Dennehy, with the shared vision and support of Governor Romney and
Secretary Flynn, has exhibited the leadership qualities that the Commission feels are required to
fully effectuate the Department’s mission and elevate agency performance. While we recognize
this unique opportunity created by having exceptional leadership at all levels, we also understand
the magnitude of the work envisioned by this report. The Commissioner will need the support
and cooperation of many capable staff, and the assistance of external entities.
Enhancing Public Safety
This is an opportune time to evaluate the correctional system in Massachusetts. Even though
violent crime has declined from the peak level that characterized the early 1990’s, the volume of
crime committed by those who are released from prison remains high. Those on the frontline of
crime in our communities -- police, prosecutors, mayors, community activists and local service
ii

providers -- continue to call attention to the large numbers of released offenders returning to our
communities with little or no preparation, support, or supervision.
Our recommendations are aimed at reducing the likelihood that inmates who return to our
communities will re-offend. This will involve a comprehensive reentry strategy. We understand
that the Department cannot meet this challenge on its own. However, research and experience
indicate that the Department -- with help from other agencies -- can take specific steps to
maximize this potential. To this end, the Commission has set forth a comprehensive set of
recommendations spanning the Department’s leadership, programs, operations, and budget. Our
recommendations begin with the premise that the Department must embrace a mission that
includes reducing the rate of recidivism by released inmates, and that its budget allocation should
more closely reflect its full set of priorities. In addition, we recommend that the Department
adopt an extensive reentry planning process, beginning as soon as an inmate enters the system
and extending through community release. Improved risk assessment, targeted and proven
programming, enhanced classification, graduated step-down to release, and supervised release
are all important components of a meaningful reentry focus.
Demanding System-wide Accountability
The Department’s management, staff, and inmates must all become more accountable to each
other and to the public. While the Department has several management systems in place to
gauge various aspects of agency performance, none infuse a strong sense of managerial and staff
accountability. In addition, the existing systems do not evaluate how well the agency is
achieving its mission and priorities. A strong system of performance-based management and
accountability can both enhance overall agency performance and promote cost savings.
Moreover, the Commission heard repeatedly that a lack of accountability contributes to conflicts
between written Department policies and actual practices. The Commission’s research shows
that improved implementation of operational systems, such as classification, inmate discipline,
inmate grievances, and internal investigations, will not only increase the levels of fairness and
consistency, but will also make our prisons safer places in which to work and to live.
Finally, the Commission found that the Department does not adequately hold inmates
accountable for participation in productive activities designed to reduce the likelihood that they
will re-offend. While inmates themselves are responsible for their own actions, the Department
can set high expectations, supported by incentives and sanctions, to encourage this process.
In order to improve accountability for managers, staff, and inmates, we recommend that the
Department adopt a performance-based management and accountability system, strengthen
management rights, and revise its existing rank structure. In addition, we recommend fair and
consistent operational policies and procedures, including classification, discipline, grievances,
and investigations. They must also be transparent, well-communicated, have specified appeals
processes, and be implemented by staff who are appropriately selected, trained and supervised.
The Commission also recommends the establishment of an independent investigative authority
and an ongoing external advisory committee on corrections to improve the accountability and
transparency of the entire Department. In our view, these systemic changes will greatly improve
the culture of the institutions, living conditions for inmates, and working conditions for staff.
iii

Instituting Fiscal Discipline
The Department of Correction’s budget has grown significantly. In the past ten years, the
Department’s operating expenditures have gone from roughly $287 million to $438 million, a
52% increase.5 While the Department’s expenditures have been increasing, the number of
inmates in custody declined from 10,644 in 1994 to 9,886 in 2003. Clearly, it is getting more
expensive to house inmates. Cost increases result in large part from rising labor costs, which
comprise 73% of the Department’s total budget.6 Between 1995 and 2003, staffing expenditures
increased from $200 million to $312 million, a 56% increase.7 Our analysis of the staff-toinmate ratio, labor contracts negotiated over the past decade, worker absenteeism, industrial
accidents and overtime usage, reveals weak management performance and leadership that has
come with a very high price tag. We do not fault the labor unions in this regard nor criticize
their “success.” The Commission values and appreciates the important public service that
correction officers perform. In our view, the issue is not how we arrived here, but how to
effectively bolster the Department’s management abilities and fiscal responsibility moving
forward.
The high cost of staffing reflects the fact that correction officers use an average of 52 paid days
off per year (including nearly 18 sick days), or the equivalent of one paid day off every week.8
The total cost to the Department for correction officer sick leave usage is approximately $21
million per year.9 In addition, the Department has a high number of workers (313) out on
industrial accident leave. Stronger management of risks, medical care, and facilitating return to
work can yield better working conditions and reduced expenditures.
The Department’s leadership must ensure that tax dollars devoted to the system are better
utilized to support its vision and mission. Our recommendations reallocate resources within the
current budget of the Department of Correction to produce substantial improvements in public
safety and efficiency, without compromising institutional security.
If the report’s
recommendations are implemented, the Department’s budget will more closely reflect its full set
of priorities, including reducing the rate of re-offense by former inmates. The Commission
specifically found that changes in management systems, organizational structure, and labor
management will improve the allocation of the Department’s public dollars. For example,
reducing the number of days off used by correction officers by 12 days -- still leaving 8 weeks of
paid time off per year -- would enable the Department to recoup approximately $14 million.

5

Adjusting for inflation, the growth in expenditures was 23% between 1994 and 2003.
Presentation to the Commission by Kyra Silva, Acting Budget Director, Massachusetts Department of Correction,
March 24, 2004.
7
Adjusting for inflation, the growth in staff expenditures was 29% between 1995 and 2003.
8
Interview with Ronald Duval, Associate Commissioner of Administration, Massachusetts Department of
Correction, June 28, 2004. These figures are for the time period of December 29, 2002 through December 27, 2003.
According to the Department, these figures do not include active military duty.
9
In making this calculation, the Commission used the weighted average ($88,000) cost for correction officers to
determine a weekly cost per officer ($1,692), and multiplied that by the number weeks of sick time utilized (3.5) and
multiplied that by 3,600 correction officers.
6

iv

Effective Collaboration
The Commission’s review focused on the Department of Correction, but it is important to frame
the issues for the Department within a larger public safety context. The Massachusetts
Department of Correction does not work in isolation. The Commission recognizes that critical
roles are played by the Legislature in defining criminal behavior and appropriating funds, the
Courts in sentencing, the Parole Board in supervising inmates, and the human service sector in
providing programming and services. This report identifies some other areas in which these
external entities constrain the policies and practices of the Department, and where improved
collaboration would generate unique opportunities for improvement.
We urge the Commonwealth to make successful reentry of inmates a public safety priority. In
doing so, it is necessary to consider corrections reform in the context of the larger,
interconnected criminal justice system. A number of our recommendations concerning reentry,
including improving classification, availability of proven programs, “step-down” prior to release,
and supervised release, are impractical unless broader reforms occur. For example, a recent
examination of inmates in the Department’s custody revealed that 84% were restricted by statute
from participating in pre-release programming.10

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The following findings and recommendations are presented -- in greater detail and content -- in
four major sections of this report: Leadership and Accountability; Fiscal Management; Public
Safety and Inmate Reentry; and Fair and Consistent Policies and Practices. Some of these
recommendations are currently at various stages of implementation by the Department. Some
can be achieved relatively swiftly, and others may require more time or are outside of the control
of the Department, and therefore require external action. Despite these variations, our
recommendations are intended to be instituted together, and mutually reinforce one another. The
Commissioner should create an action plan for accomplishing the recommendations. If an
external advisory committee on corrections is established as recommended herein, it should work
with the Commissioner to establish timelines and priorities for action.

LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Major Findings:
ƒ

Important aspects of the Department’s mission have not been fully effectuated.

ƒ

The Department’s internal management systems are inadequate to support the reforms
contained in this report.

ƒ

Models of performance management systems exist, and could assist the Department
in improving agency performance, accountability, and cost efficiency.

ƒ

The Department’s management does not have sufficient authority and discretion.

10

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Policy and Statutory Restrictions Impact on Inmate Placement,
(Concord, MA: January 2004), p. 2

v

ƒ

The Department is inextricably linked to external criminal justice and human service
agencies.

ƒ

The Commissioner’s new strategic plan is a step in the right direction.

ƒ

An external advisory board on corrections would provide necessary ongoing
monitoring and oversight of the DOC.

Major Recommendations:
1. The Department should revise its mission to include reducing the rate of re-offense by
inmates released into the community.
2. The Department should adopt a performance management and accountability system to
enhance agency performance, improve the culture, and utilize budget resources more
effectively.
3. The Department’s management capacity should be strengthened through the collective
bargaining process and revisions to the internal rank structure.
4. There should be an external advisory board on corrections to monitor and oversee the
Department. The board should work cooperatively with the Commissioner to develop
concrete goals for the future of the Department.

FISCAL MANAGEMENT
Major Findings:
ƒ

As staffing costs comprise 73% of the DOC budget, the Department’s fiscal
management is closely linked with its capacity for efficient and effective labor
management.

Major Recommendations:
5. The Department should take responsibility for bringing down staffing costs and reducing
worker absenteeism.
6. The Department’s budget should be more closely aligned with its mission and priorities.
This will enhance public safety in a fiscally responsible manner.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND INMATE REENTRY
Major Findings:
ƒ

The Department does not adequately prepare inmates for release back to the
community.

vi

ƒ

The Department does not hold inmates accountable for participating in productive
activities such as programs, work, and treatment.

ƒ

Models of effective reentry planning exist and could be useful for the Department.

ƒ

The Department’s ability to effectively transition inmates is limited by state laws,
sentencing practices, and internal DOC policies.

ƒ

Post release supervision strengthens inmate reentry and is especially necessary for
inmates who are at a high risk for re-offense.

Major Recommendations:
7. The Commonwealth must view reducing the rate of re-offense by returning inmates as one of
its highest public safety priorities.
8. The Department should adopt a comprehensive reentry strategy including risk assessment,
proven programs, “step-down,” and supervised release.
9. The Department should hold inmates more accountable for participation in productive
activities designed to reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend.
10. The Commonwealth and the Department should revise sentencing laws and DOC policies
that create barriers to appropriate classification, programming, and “step-down.”
11. The Commonwealth should establish a presumption that DOC inmates who are released are
subject to ongoing monitoring and supervision.
12. There should be a dedicated external review of inmate health and mental health services.
13. There should be a dedicated external review of issues pertaining to female offenders in the
Department’s custody.

FAIR AND CONSISTENT POLICIES AND PRACTICES
Major Findings:
ƒ

Many of the Department’s current policies, procedures and practices are not fair and
consistent, including those related to inmate classification, discipline and grievances.

ƒ

Current policies and practices do not adequately ensure the safety of inmates in
protective custody.

ƒ

The Department’s current systems for oversight and accountability are deficient,
including those related to investigations and data integration.

ƒ

Effective communication with inmates is inhibited by a limited bilingual work force.
This may impact institutional security.

vii

Major Recommendations:
14. The Department should ensure that policies and procedures, including those related to inmate
classification, discipline, and grievances, are transparent, well-communicated, have specified
appeals processes, and are implemented by staff who are appropriately selected, trained and
supervised.
15. The Department should ensure that policies and procedures are properly implemented
through oversight and accountability systems, including an independent investigative
authority, data management, and unit management.
16. The Department should conduct a system-wide facility review to ensure that its physical
plant is consistent with the security needs of the staff and the inmate population, and the
Department’s mission.
17. The Department should adequately protect and care for inmates in protective custody.
18. The Department should increase the linguistic diversity and cultural competence of its
workforce.
The fiscal implications to consider along with our recommendations are discussed in Section VI
of this report. There we present our view that the current budget resources of the Department
should be reallocated – not reduced – consistent with our recommendations. In so doing, we can
improve public safety and fiscal efficiency without undermining security for staff or inmates.
Moreover, the DOC’s budget will be more closely aligned with its mission and priorities,
including reducing the rate of re-offense by former inmates.
Conclusion
In the detailed report that follows this summary, we have set forth a plan for the Department to
enhance public safety by reducing the rate of re-offense among inmates who return to our
communities. Our recommendations involve improving managerial capacity and quality;
enhancing accountability for managers, staff, and inmates; adopting a comprehensive reentry
focus; ensuring fairness and consistency in policies and practices; and instituting fiscal
discipline. In our view, the Department can become a strong and vital partner in the public
safety arena by adopting these recommendations.

viii

I. INTRODUCTION
n August 23, 2003, the Massachusetts Department of Correction11 came under scrutiny
following the death of a high-profile inmate. On that date, former priest John Geoghan died
while in maximum security confinement in the Department’s custody, and a fellow inmate was
indicted for his murder. On September 4, 2003, Governor Mitt Romney and Secretary of Public
Safety, Edward Flynn, formed of a special investigative panel (“Panel”) to examine the
circumstances and conditions surrounding the death of Mr. Geoghan. The panel members were
Major Mark Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly and George Camp, Ph.D. In the course of its
investigation, the Panel reviewed the DOC’s policies, practices, and decision-making. In its
preliminary findings,12 the Panel identified broader systemic issues that required further study.
As a result, on October 17, 2003, Governor Mitt Romney established the Governor’s
Commission on Corrections Reform (the “Commission”), chaired by former Attorney General
Scott Harshbarger. This “Blue Ribbon” Commission was given the broad mandate of conducting
a comprehensive, top to bottom review of the Department, including the governance, operational
systems, security, programs, reentry, and budget. The Commission is comprised of 15 current
and former corrections officials, legislators, community leaders, and criminal justice experts.

O

Since the Commission’s first meeting in November, 2003, the Department has undergone
changes in management including the appointment of a new Commissioner of Correction. The
current commissioner, Kathleen Dennehy, has instituted many changes since her appointment in
March, 2004, including revising the Department’s vision, mission and values statements, and
developing a comprehensive strategic plan for the Department. This strategic plan sets forth
short-term and long-term action steps for addressing the systemic problems identified in the
panel report, which the Commission finds encouraging. Thus far, Commissioner Dennehy has
exhibited the leadership qualities that the Commission feels are required to fully effectuate the
Department’s mission and elevate agency performance. Therefore, we acknowledge that
Commissioner Dennehy is in the process of addressing many issues covered in this report.
However, this Commission was charged with examining the Department and offering
recommendations for reform and a vision for how these changes should take shape.
Sources of Information and Data Collection
From November, 2003 through June, 2004, the Commission met every other week. The
Commissioners divided into three working groups that focused on issues related to (1)
governance, (2) operations, and (3) security, programs and reintegration. The Governance
working group focused on mission, management systems and structure, and labor relations. The
Operations working group focused on classification, inmate discipline, investigations, and
inmate grievances. Finally the Security, Programs, and Reintegration working group focused on

11

The Massachusetts Department of Correction is referred to as both “the DOC” and “the Department” throughout
this document.
12
Major Mark F. Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly, and George Camp, Ph.D., Administrative Investigation; The Facts
and Circumstances Surrounding the Events Which Led to Inmate Geoghan’s Death on August 23, 2003, (Released
on February 3, 2004).

1

issues related to inmate reentry into the community, including safety, cost and supervision. The
relevant budget items and fiscal issues were considered by all three working groups.
The Commission members possessed a broad range of expertise and experience. In developing
its recommendations, the Commission conducted wide-ranging research, limited solely by time
and resources, on the Department of Correction and on national “Best Practices.” We reviewed
approximately 300 documents, heard testimony from nearly 25 key stakeholders at our 13
commission meetings, listened to testimony from 38 speakers at a public hearing, conducted four
focus groups including nearly 40 inmates, conducted 13 site visits, surveyed superintendents and
captains at every facility, surveyed correction officers at six facilities, reviewed nearly 200
pieces of inmate correspondence, interviewed numerous DOC staff members, administrators, and
former inmates, and reviewed literature and national research on corrections policy. The Chair
also conducted separate meetings with several national experts and state correctional
administrators.
Overview of the Department
The Department is primarily responsible for the care and custody of those individuals sentenced
to state prison. The Department of Correction also provides care and custody for a wide variety
of other populations including those individuals civilly committed to Bridgewater State Hospital,
the Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous, or the Massachusetts Addiction and Substance
Abuse Center. The Department also provides care and custody for female offenders from
counties with no female correctional facilities, including pre-trial detainees and those sentenced
to a house of correction. The rest of the state’s incarcerated population is held in the 13 county
houses of correction, led by elected sheriffs (Nantucket County is the only county that does not
operate a county correctional facility). The Sheriffs Departments and their correctional facilities,
while important, were not included within the Commission’s charge, and therefore are not the
subject of this report. The Department’s population of approximately 10,000 inmates is housed
in 18 correctional facilities that range in security level from the most restrictive, Level 6
(maximum), to the least restrictive, Level 3/2 (minimum/pre-release). (See Appendix II for a
listing of the 18 facilities by security level.)
The Department of Correction’s budget has grown significantly over the past decade. The
operating expenditures for the Department of Correction in 2003 totaled nearly $438 million,13 a
52% increase from $287 million in 1994.14 As shown in Figure 1, the growth in expenditures
was not the result of a growing inmate population. While the Department’s expenditures were
increasing, the number of inmates declined by 7% from 10,644 in 1994 to 9,886 in 2003. Cost
increases result primarily from the rising costs of labor, including overtime and collective

13

This includes the $425,957,498 for the Department’s budget plus an additional $11,901,018 in revenue from other
sources such as correctional industries.
14
Adjusting for inflation, the growth in expenditures was 23% between 1994 and 2003.

2

bargaining costs.15 Between 1995 and 2003, staffing expenditures increased from $200 million
to $312 million, a 56% increase.16

Figure 1. Operating Expenditures and Custody Population, 1994 – 2003

Operating
Expenditures
$500,000,000
$450,000,000
$400,000,000

Inmates in
Custody
12,000
$440,608,956

10,644 Inmates in Custody

10,000

$368,354,892
Adjusted for Inflation

9,820

$350,000,000
8,000
$300,000,000
$250,000,000

$287,316,816

6,000

Not Adjusted for Inflation

$200,000,000
4,000
$150,000,000
$100,000,000
2,000
$50,000,000
$-

0
1994

1995

Not Adjusted for Inflation

1996

1997

1998

1999

Adjusted for Inflation

15

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Inmates in Custody (January of each year)

Staff related expenses make up the largest portion of the DOC budget, and represents 73% of the budget.
Presentation to the Commission by Kyra Silva, Acting Budget Director, Massachusetts Department of Correction,
March 24, 2004.
16
Adjusting for inflation, the growth in staff expenditures was 29% between 1995 and 2003.
.

3

Vision for the Department of Correction
The Commission began its work by establishing our vision for the Department based on the
foundation of enhancing public safety and maximizing cost efficiency. We recommend that the
Department should strive to achieve two important objectives:
¾ Safe, secure and humane confinement for inmates and staff;
¾ Effective inmate reentry planning including proven programming to minimize the
likelihood that inmates will re-offend upon release.
Both prongs of this objective are equally compelling and interrelated. The recommendations of
this report are intended to assist the Department in developing a fiscally responsible blueprint for
action consistent with these objectives. Then, based on demonstrated performance, to call upon
others upon which it must depend, for a similarly smart, efficient, effective set of responses and
actions.

The Department should provide safe, secure and humane custody while
preparing inmates to return to society in a way that makes it less likely that
they will re-offend.

4

II. LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY

B

y some key measures, the correctional system in Massachusetts has been performing well.
All facilities in the Department have achieved national accreditation. Safety and security
levels are much higher than in earlier years, as demonstrated by the facts that the escape rate is
low and the facilities are generally orderly. However, we can, and should, expect more. The
Department should be an integral component of the Commonwealth’s long-term public safety
strategy, not just for its ability to incapacitate people, but for the potential it has to return inmates
to communities in a condition that makes it less likely that they will re-offend.
The Commissioner of Correction confronts a complex set of internal and external issues.
Internally, the Commissioner of Correction must manage the critical safety risks posed by the
DOC population; manage relations with various labor unions; provide needed programs and
services to its population; and do it all within budgetary constraints.
Externally, the Commissioner is affected by vacillating public opinion and political attitudes
surrounding criminal justice policy. The Commissioner must manage relationships with a host
of outside agencies, including parole, probation, the courts, law enforcement, community-based
organizations, human service agencies, the Legislature, prison advocacy groups and others. Over
the past decade, legislative and policy changes have had the effect of limiting the focus of the
Department to incapacitation and punishment, despite the Department’s stated mission
emphasizing programming and “structured reintegration.”
The Commission recognizes that exceptional leadership, and enhanced senior leadership capacity
and quality, is required at different levels in order to balance the complicated array of internal
and external issues, while raising the level of agency performance. Moreover, we assert that the
Department’s culture and values are necessarily defined at the top. We advocate that the
Commissioner be proactive and strategic in improving the Department while managing the risk
posed by the prison population.

FINDINGS
Important aspects of the Department’s mission have not been fully
effectuated.
The mission of the Department, as it existed in January, 200417 stated that the DOC’s mission
was to “promote public safety by imprisoning inmates (offenders, detainees, and those civilly
committed) while providing opportunities for rehabilitation through a structured reintegration
model.”18 However, we found that programming and reintegration components of the
Department’s mission did not fully infiltrate operations, structure, culture, policies, or practices.
17

In February 2004, the Department released a strategic plan with revised vision and mission statements and core
values. We do not address those here, as there has not been adequate time for the new Commissioner to implement
them.
18
103 DOC 100.02.

5

Instead, the Department has been overwhelmingly influenced by two primary values:
incapacitation and punishment. Moreover, the Commission finds that this result was caused in
part by external forces exerted upon the Department.
For more than a decade, the values of incapacitation and punishment were promoted nationally
and throughout Massachusetts’ government. “Truth-in-sentencing” 19 and mandatory minimum
sentencing laws were enacted. “Statutory good time” was eliminated.20 Fewer and fewer
inmates were discharged on parole supervision.21 Courts increasingly imposed sentences that
resulted in inmates “maxing out” before reaching parole eligibility dates. These prevailing
policies and sentiments not only affected who entered the Department’s custody and how long
they stayed, but also what occurred once inside.
In 1991, Governor William Weld entered office after vowing to “reintroduce our inmates to the
joys of busting rock.”22 This philosophy echoed national and local sentiments that the criminal
justice system, and the prison system in particular, had become too lenient on criminal offenders.
The Commission heard repeatedly that it also set into motion significant change inside the DOC.
Over the course of the next decade, the trend was to “move behind the walls” – i.e., move more
inmates into higher levels of security while simultaneously closing lower security facilities (see
Figure 2)Notably, this retreat did not reflect a more violent or serious inmate population, as the
offense characteristics have been stable over time.23 Yet in 1998, the Commonwealth
constructed Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, a so-called “super-max” facility,24 with a
construction price tag of $110 million. At the same time, the Department closed several
minimum-security and pre-release facilities, which are less costly to operate. On June 30, 2002,
the DOC closed SECC Medium, Hodder House at MCI-Framingham, MCI-Lancaster, the
Massachusetts Boot Camp, and the Addiction Center at SECC. This amounted to a loss of 632
beds in lower security settings.25 Today only five minimum-security facilities remain in
operation.26

19

See Chapter 432 of the Acts of 1993.
See Chapter 432 of the Acts of 1993 sec. 10. Statutory good time automatically deducted days from a prisoner’s
maximum sentence and could be lost if the prisoner did not demonstrate good conduct.
See also, Boston Bar Association, Parole Practices in Massachusetts and Their Effect on Community Reintegration,
(Boston, MA: Task Force on Parole and Community Reintegration, 2002), p. 14-15
21
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division, Releases from DOC Facilities, 19902002, (Concord, MA: 2003)
22
Jack Sullivan, "Weld calls Suffolk jail too fancy, too costly," Boston Globe, July 31, 1990
23
The mix of offense-types for the inmate population has been relatively stable over the last 10 years. In 1993, the
share of the population serving for a person offense was 47%, sex offense 17%, property offense 12%, and drug
offense 20%. In 2003, the shares were person offense 49%, sex offense 18%, property offense 9%, and drug offense
21%.
24
Criminal Justice Institute Inc., A Report on an Assessment of the Institutional Culture in the Souza-Baranowski
Correctional Center Provided to the Massachusetts Department of Correction, (Middletown, CT: April 2004)
25
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Quarterly Report on the Status of Prison Overcrowding series, (Boston,
MA: multiple years).
26
They are MCI-Plymouth, Northeastern Correctional Center, South Middlesex Correctional Center, Pondville
Correctional Center, and Boston Pre-Release.
20

6

Figure 2. Department of Corrections New Beds and Closed Beds, 1990 – Present

MCI-Cedar Junction
+59 max beds

New Beds

MCI-Cedar Junction DDU
+126 max beds

Old Colony CC
+100 min beds

Bay State CC
+160 med beds

MCI-Framingham
+110 med beds

MCI-Concord
+100 med beds

Mass Boot Camp
+256 min beds

Mass Treatment Center
+300 med beds

MCI-Shirley
+720 med beds

1990

1991

1992

MCI-Concord
+218 med beds
Souza-Baranowski CC
+1,024 max beds

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

Boston Pre-Release
+150 min beds

2001

2002

2003

Longwood TC
-126 min beds

MCI-Warwick
-50 min beds

Park Drive Pre-Release
-50 min beds
MCI-Shirley
-393 min beds
Lancaster
-187 min beds

Closed Beds

SECC
-787 med beds
Hodder House
-35 min beds
(Old) Boston Pre-Release
-55 min beds

Simultaneously, the number of inmates placed in higher security levels began to rise
dramatically. As shown in Figure 3, in 1994 9% of the DOC population was housed in
maximum security facilities, 68% in medium security facilities, and 23% in minimum security
facilities.27 By contrast, in 2004 the shares were 19% in maximum security facilities, 70% in
medium security facilities, and 11% in minimum security facilities.28

27

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Quarterly Report on the Status of Prison Overcrowding, First Quarter
of 1990, (Boston, MA: April 1990), p. 3.
28
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Quarterly Report on the Status of Prison Overcrowding, First Quarter
of 2004, (Boston, MA: April 2004), p.7. .

7

Figure 3. Population by Security Level, 1994 - 2004.
100%
9%
19%

90%
80%
70%
60%

68%

50%
70%
40%
30%
20%
10%

23%
11%

0%
1994

1995

1996

1997

Minimum (Levels 1,2,3)

1998

1999

2000

Medium (Levels 4&5)

2001

2002

2003

2004

Maximum (Level 6)

In addition, two important shifts took place in terms of how inmates were “stepped down”
through security levels and released back to the community. The number of inmates released on
parole supervision declined dramatically, while the number of inmates released directly from
secure facilities rose dramatically. As shown in Figure 4, in 1990 65% of the males released to
the street from the DOC were released to parole supervision and 35% were discharged from their
sentences.29 Of the males released in 1990, 5% were released from maximum security facilities,
38% were released from medium security facilities, and 57% were released from minimum or
other lower security facilities.30 By 2002 these proportions were nearly reversed: 34% of the
males released to the street from the DOC were released to parole supervision and 66% were
discharged from their sentences.31 In 2002, 12% of males were released from maximum security
facilities, 62% were released from medium security facilities, and 26% were released from
minimum or other lower security facilities.32

29

Robert J. Tenaglia, A Statistical Description of Releases from Massachusetts Correctional Institutions During
1994, (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Department of Correction, 1996), p. 2
30
Ibid.
31
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division, Releases from the Massachusetts
Department of Correction During 2002, (Concord, MA: 2003), p.26
32
Ibid, page 20. These calculations include all male releases from DOC facilities – i.e., not limited to releases to
the street and excludes releases from county, federal, or inter-state facilities.

8

Figure 4. Releases from Prison by Type of Release, 1990 and 2002

DOC Releases

1990

2002

Maximum security

5%

12%

Medium security

38%

62%

Minimum security

57%

26%

Paroled

65%

34%

Discharged

35%

66%

Security Level

Release Type

Simultaneously, the DOC cut back in-prison education and programs significantly, which
resulted in the layoff of 36 full time teachers and the elimination of several vocational programs,
including drafting, HVAC, small engine repair, building trades and maintenance, and auto body.
Academic programs were eliminated at some facilities, including special education and ESL.33
The Commission heard repeatedly that since the deep program cuts, the demand for education
and programming has greatly outweighed the supply.
These changes over the past 10 to 15 years created a significantly widening gap between key
elements of the Department’s mission and the agency’s actual goals and practices. Most
importantly, however, these practices also reflect an increasing divergence from what has been
learned over the past decade about “what works” in successfully preparing offenders for lawabiding lives post-release. Recent federal and state recidivism studies have consistently shown
higher rates of criminal offending for inmates released from higher security facilities.34 In the
widely cited 1997 “What Works” report to the U.S. Congress, researchers from the University of
Maryland found education and treatment programming and “step down programs“ effective in
reducing recidivism provided that the programs were designed and implemented carefully.35

33

Data provided by the Department to the Commission on December 22, 2003.
Patrick A. Langan and David J. Levin, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994, (Washington D.C.: Bureau of
Justice Statistics, 2002), Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division, Recidivism of
1997 Released Department of Correction Inmates, (Concord, MA: 2003), p. iii
35
Lawrence W. Sherman, et al., Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising. Research in
Brief. National Institute of Justice, (Washington, DC National Inst of Justice: Department of Justice, 1998)
34

9

The Department’s internal management systems are inadequate to support
the reforms contained in this report.
The Department’s management systems36 are insufficient to change agency culture, improve
accountability, and adequately measure overall agency performance. Management utilizes a
system of regular reporting, internal and external audits, and meetings to ensure that DOC
institutions fulfill minimum standards required by statute and internal policies. However,
because these systems do not include defined measures of individual or organizational
performance,37 they essentially ask the wrong questions to support the reforms contemplated in
this report. In short, they cannot help the DOC or any outside group assess whether the agency is
achieving its mission and goals and, most importantly, have little ability to instill accountability.
Internal Compliance Audits
The Department has an internal auditing process designed to ensure that individual prisons meet
basic standards. These audits, however, provide little information as to whether the agency is
fulfilling its stated mission and goals in terms of reducing re-offense and improving public
safety. On a yearly basis, the agency’s Audit & Compliance Division conducts audits of each
prison in the correctional system. Other agencies such as the state Department of Public Health
also conduct audits related to sanitation, health, and living conditions. While audits are standard
practice in corrections, and from the available evidence to the commission, were well conducted
by the Department, they are an inadequate measure of the agency’s performance in the broadest
sense. Audits are cumbersome and lengthy, do not provide a real-time assessment of the entire
agency, evaluate only on a facility-by-facility basis, and are limited in focus. A typical audit
focuses on a handful of correctional practices, such as security and sanitation. Audits are
scheduled in advance, giving the facility time to prepare and strengthen its policies and practices.
There are numerous steps in the process, and several months can pass from the time an audit is
conducted through the time when a plan to address deficiencies is completed.38 Thus, while
audits are a valuable tool for ensuring that the minimum standards are being met, they do not
ask the right questions to be used as an effective management tool, nor do they hold staff
accountable for results.
National Accreditation
Over the last few years, the Department has contracted with the American Correctional
Association (ACA) to seek accreditation for all of its facilities. The ACA accreditation process
involves an auditing process similar to the internal audit described earlier, although conducted by

36

The Commission comments on the management practices in place through the winter of 2004. While these
systems remain in place, and ought to for certain purposes, it is not clear that they are intended to form the basis of
the current Commissioner’s management system going forward.
37
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Strategic Planning Guide, (Concord, MA: 2004)
38
When necessary, the auditing division or outside agency may also request to re-inspect the areas of deficiencies
after the institutional has had time to remedy the deficiencies.

10

external correctional professionals.39 While the ACA accreditation process can encourage an
institution to improve its correctional practices and is often a great source of pride for employees,
its value can be overstated. The site inspection is typically cursory in nature,40 and reviews tend
to rely heavily on “paperwork” compliance with files, rather than demonstrated fulfillment of
mission and compliance with best correctional practices. Moreover, the ACA standards lack
specific measurable performance indicators.
The Commission commends the DOC for achieving national accreditation in each of its
facilities. However, we find that this accomplishment is not a significant indicator of how well
the agency is achieving its mission or goals. Moreover, ACA accreditation is not a sufficient
management tool, as it does not promote accountability for actions or results.
Superintendent Reports
Finally, in addition to annual internal audits and outside accreditation efforts, the prior
Commissioner and his staff would track institutional performance through regular reports
submitted by the superintendents. On a monthly basis, the superintendents submit “Climate
Reports” that detail the major incidents in their facilities, including gang related activities, the
recovery and use of drugs and weapons, assaults on staff and inmates, “use of force” incidents by
staff, disciplinary reports, and returns to higher custody. In addition, quarterly and annually,
superintendents submit reports that provide descriptive and statistical information on their
institutions, including summaries of the climate reports, staffing levels of the institution, program
reports, and updates on maintenance and building projects. The Commissioner was also
responsible for the agency’s annual report. Taken as a whole, these reports provide a wealth of
information for each institution and the entire agency. However, it does not appear that the
agency regularly probed or analyzed the information contained in these reports, assessed
performance against benchmarks, or that particular performance indicators were used to assess
the “health” of the entire system. As such, it does not appear that these reports were used as a
way to hold superintendents accountable for what occurred inside their facilities.
Management by ‘Walking Around’
Many successful correctional leaders and consultants agree that one of the most effective
management tools is simply walking around an institution at different times of the day or night.
Just being within the walls of a facility can give a manager a vivid sense of the culture, attitudes,
and operations. It also sends a strong message to the staff that management cares. This
management style, both at the Commissioner and superintendent level, has been underutilized.

39

The review assesses an institution’s compliance with ACA mandatory and recommended standards. To receive
accreditation, an institution has to meet all of the mandatory standards and most, but not all, of the recommended
standards.
40
ACA site inspections usually involve auditors attempting to assess all of the functional areas of a prison during a
two to three-day visit. The Department’s auditors will conduct multiple audits of a correctional facility, each of
which focuses on different functional areas of correctional practice.

11

Models of performance management systems exist, and could assist the
Department in improving agency performance, accountability, and cost
efficiency.
Over the past decade, several correctional systems have attempted to re-think how they monitor
progress toward specific agency goals to ensure greater staff and agency accountability. The
Commission highlights four of these systems below:
TEAMS, New York City
Perhaps the most celebrated example of a performance management system is the Total
Efficiency Accountability Management System (TEAMS) introduced in the New York City
Correctional Department in 1994.
Modeled after the award-winning COMPSTAT
(Computerized Statistics) program run by the New York City Police Department, TEAMS was
introduced to address widespread problems of violence and corruption at the ten correctional
facilities at Riker’s Island. TEAMS is organized around three major concepts: (1) collection and
analysis of key data (160 indicators) that support agency goals and mission; (2) high-level
forums chaired by the Commissioner to review and probe performance indicators and address
problems; and (3) implementation of changes. Notably, since 1995, TEAMS is credited with
reducing inmate-on-inmate violence by 97%; overtime by 34%; and uniformed sick leave by
38%.41
Several Commission members and staff attended a TEAMS meeting in April, 2004, and
observed two wardens present data and undergo rigorous but respectful questioning from the
Commissioner. One warden reported that his facility had reduced overtime by over 40% while
raising morale, and decreased the waiting time for inmates to receive medical services by 26%.
He discussed efforts to analyze inmate grievances, and described a plan recently instituted to
reward staff for strong attendance. The Commissioner inquired about a broad range of matters
including: soap scum in the showers; suicide prevention efforts; minute-by-minute accounts of
staff uses of force; and what recent information existed to determine specific individuals’
particular security risks. The TEAMS meeting and data enabled the Commissioner to possess
highly detailed and current information about his staff, facilities, and inmates, and to
communicate clearly his priorities and values to all of the Department’s command staff. The
program also appears to have considerable support from the rank-and-file correctional officers.
Thus, based on the data, and our own observations in speaking with managers and staff at all
levels, we found that TEAMS instills a sense of accountability, while producing pride for results,
proactive problem-solving techniques, and shared ownership of the Mayor’s and
Commissioner’s priorities.
DOC Watch, Washington State
DOC Watch in Washington State has some of the same elements as TEAMS. This model
includes the assessment of performance measures such as the number of offenders on community
41

City of New York, Citywide Accountability Program, http://www.nyc.gov/html/doc/html/cap.html

12

supervision, the number of hours of community service work provided by offenders, and the
number of offenders who complete basic skills education and chemical dependency treatment
programs. At the DOC Watch sessions, managers must address five questions related to specific
performance measures.42 Thereafter, the group has a discussion that focuses on best practices,
barriers to success, and opportunities for collaborative problem solving.
Oregon Accountability Model
Oregon’s DOC’s accountability model ties together efforts of the Department and its partners in
a strategy to “reduce recidivism and influence inmates into becoming productive citizens.”43
From the first day an inmate arrives, the DOC focuses on his or her return to the community as a
productive citizen. The program has six components: (1) criminal risk factor assessment and case
planning; (2) staff-inmate interactions; (3) work and programs; (4) children and families; (5)
reentry; and (6) community supervision.44 The Department has developed a series of
performance measures linked to these components that reflect overall Department priorities.
Evaluation of the Department’s performance is conducted monthly for agency management and
published in an annual performance report. Noteworthy performance measures include:
percentage of inmate’s correction plan completed while at DOC; percentage of inmates
reintegrated into the community who completed their plan and did not recidivate; and percentage
of offenders on post-prison supervision convicted of a felony within three years of release from
prison.45
Accountability in the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department is an example of a correctional agency that has
institutionalized performance accountability without adopting a formal accountability
management system. It has created a positive environment for both staff and inmates by paying
attention to very basic management duties and by adopting “best practice” approaches to
managing correctional facilities and successful prisoner reentry. With the benefit of a longserving Sheriff, Hampden County has introduced approaches to inmate and staff accountability
that are mutually reinforcing and that dovetail with high expectations for management personnel.
Inmates understand that their status in the institution and their progress toward community
release are tied directly to their active participation in programs to prepare for release and to their
institutional behavior. Similarly, correctional staff recognize that professional advancement
depends upon performance. The Sheriff’s Department uses a model of unit management that
includes a fair amount of responsibility for uniform staff, non-uniform staff and inmates. This is
made possible by the full array of programming available (within the prison and in community
42

These questions are: What has been done to affect this performance measure? (Administrative); What were the
results? (Descriptive); Were the desired results achieved? (Diagnostic); After review of the results, should other
options be considered and why? (Creative and Predictive); Which do you feel is, or could be, the best choice to
affect this performance measure? (Evaluative).”
43
State of Oregon, Oregon Accountability Model, http://www.doc.state.or.us/oam/pdf/oam-flyer.pdf.
44
Ibid.
45
Oregon Department of Corrections, Research and Evaluation Unit,2004 Annual Performance Report, ,(Salem,
OR: January 2004)

13

settings) and by the professional operation of classification, which ensures that inmates have
incentives to make appropriate use of their time.
In this system, all parties are held accountable for the decisions they make. The Sheriff
personally interviews each candidate for employment with the Department, meets with each
person upon promotion, and regularly meets with inmates in their housing units. In this handson way, the Sheriff ensures that institutional culture is consistent and that each person is
contributing to fulfillment of the agency’s mission.
A performance measurement management system would better enable the Commissioner to
communicate and instill her mission throughout the agency. Moreover, it would provide her
with a detailed sense of how the full organization is functioning in real time. Finally, it would
instill a culture of accountability by holding top managers – and in doing so the entire staff –
responsible for problems within their control.
The Department’s management does not have sufficient authority and
discretion.
Two central components of correctional management are the scope of management’s authority
and control, and the management structure or hierarchy. Close examination of contractually
defined management rights, managerial capacity and rank structure, staff-related expenses, and
contractual obligations, indicates that the agency’s management abilities must be strengthened.
Management is responsible for governing the overall operation of the Department, including
managing the Department, allocating its fiscal and human resources, and accomplishing its
mission. The labor union serves to represent its members and to promote a work environment
that is safe and free of exploitation. Ideally, management and labor have a shared respect for the
work force and for achieving the Department’s goals.
The correction officers’ contract is distinguished by weak management rights provisions. The
contract severely limits the authority of management to assign, promote, transfer and remove a
correction officer for the good of the Department. In three facilities, position assignments are
determined by “job pick” – which means that officers can bid for the job they want, and jobs are
awarded on the basis of seniority. 46 Once the job is awarded, the officer owns it for life, or a
specified term.47 In the remaining facilities, shifts are determined strictly on the basis of
seniority. In both instances, superintendents are allotted a small percentage (about 7%) of
“superintendent pick” positions, whereby they retain the discretion to fill positions as they wish.
Thus, locked-in bids and seniority govern the staffing process, subject only to a small number of
superintendent pick positions. Similarly, the superintendents are unable to transfer or remove an
officer for the good of the Department without being subject to grievance and arbitration. These
limitations on managerial discretion impact the most fundamental management functions
46

“Job pick” exists at three facilities, MCI Concord, MCI Walpole, and North Central Correctional Institution at
Gardner.
47
According to the DOC at MCI Walpole, the shifts are awarded for life; at MCI Concord, they are re-bid every 18
months; and at North Central Correctional Institution at Gardner, they are re-bid every 12 months.

14

required to effectively staff and operate DOC facilities. The Administrative Investigation found
that the corrections officers were not in jobs that best matched their level of training and
strengths or their compatibility with a specific population.
In addition, the Department’s management hierarchy is problematic due to blurred distinctions
between labor and management. Under the current management structure, captains are the
highest-ranking officials on duty for the vast majority of shifts each week, 16 out of 21 shifts.
Thus, a captain is responsible for managing the daily operations of his/her facility, including
signing off on time cards and sick time, filling vacant positions, writing up infractions, and
taking corrective actions to address misconduct by officers. Notably, the captains unionized
under the International Brotherhood of Correction Officers (IBCO) in 1999.48 Notwithstanding
this fact, the managerial and supervisory responsibilities of captains have remained intact.49
Similarly, sergeants and lieutenants who serve as direct supervisors of line correction officers are
members of the same union as the correction officers, Massachusetts Corrections Officers
Federated Union (MCOFU). There are inherent conflicts, redundancy, and confusion in this rank
structure.50 The Commission does not question the integrity, performance or motives of
individual captains, sergeants or lieutenants. However, we believe that to enhance the overall
management of the Department, clear lines between labor and management are required.
The Department is inextricably linked to external criminal justice and human
service agencies.
While all government agencies intersect with other government and non-governmental entities,
none do so more than the Department of Correction.51 For this reason, it is crucial that the
Department have on-going communication and collaboration with a range of external agencies.
Decisions by police and District Attorneys determine which crimes and which defendants come
before the courts for prosecution and sentencing. Changes in police priorities and practices
therefore influence the size and character of the flow of offenders into prisons several months to
a year later. Legislative and judicial decisions determine the length of an inmate’s prison
sentence. In some cases, such as mandatory minimum sentences, the legislature has set high
48

The Department abolished promotional exams necessary to become a Captain. Thereafter, junior officers with
less time and responsibility began to earn more than their Captain supervisors. The Captains unionized to address
this inadequacy.
49
82% of captains who responded to the Commission survey said that their becoming unionized has not changed
their roles and responsibilities.
50
Criminal Justice Institute, Inc., A Report on an Assessment of the Institutional Culture in the Souza-Baranowski
Correctional Center Provided to the Massachusetts Department of Correction (Middletown, CT: April 2004), p.
25–28. “At SBCC the officers identified themselves as ‘blue shirts’ and, unlike at most institutions, counted their
direct supervisors – the sergeants and lieutenants who are members of the same union – as among the ‘blue shirts.’”
“…sergeants and lieutenants …expressed reluctance to issue orders or correct officers they were supervising, while,
at the same time, complaining that their subordinates did not respect rank….Supervisors expressed that they often
‘found themselves with nothing to do,’ …or ‘with nobody to supervise’ as those they were working with were all of
the same rank.”
51
For more on how criminal justice operates in Massachusetts, see Anne Morrison. Piehl, From Cell to Street: A
Plan to Supervise Inmates After Release, (Boston: MassINC, 2002), Mark A. R. Kleiman, Criminal Justice in
Massachusetts, (Boston, MA: MassINC, 1996).

15

enough minimum requirements that judges rarely exceed them. Moreover, numerous laws
govern how inmates must be treated once incarcerated. These range from restrictions on
community-based placement for many inmates to the Supreme Court’s and the state Supreme
Judicial Court’s interpretation of what the United States and Massachusetts Constitutions
demand from conditions of confinement.
Decisions by the Board of Parole determine the timing of the flow out of prisons (to the extent
that sentences, state law, and inmate behavior do not preclude discretionary release).
Additionally, the Board of Parole and the Department of Probation influence the flow of inmates
back into prison due to technical violations of the terms of supervision. Oftentimes, inmates
have previously served sentences in a county detention and/or House of Correction prior to their
terms in the DOC, and they may also be under county supervision at some point following their
release.
In addition to linkages with these criminal justice agencies, there is typically substantial overlap
between the prison population and those who receive social services from the state. This
includes services such as Medicaid, mental health services, family support services, and
transitional assistance. Thus, it is crucial that there be continuity of human services once an
inmate transitions back to the Community.52
Because of these linkages across agencies, there are compelling reasons for improved
collaborative work in the state. Collaborations in Massachusetts have shown how coordination
across agencies can be productive. For example, the Department has linked with Hampden
County to re-enter some inmates from that geographic area through the Sheriff’s Department. In
addition, the Department is working with the Lowell Police Department to assist with the release
of inmates without further criminal justice supervision. These important efforts, and others,
could be evaluated for possible expansion and integration into standard operating procedures.
The Commissioner’s new strategic plan is a step in the right direction.
In February 2004, Commissioner Dennehy53 released a Strategic Planning Guide (“Guide”). The
Commission commends the breadth of this document. The Guide identifies the right set of
priority issues, and establishes a set of short-term and long-term action steps. The Guide
provides a solid foundation upon which to build meaningful reform. The Commission hopes that
details consistent with this report will continue to be incorporated. Further, we applaud the
Commissioner for swiftly generating her own vision for the Department, rather than waiting for
external directives.

52

The need for continuity in human services was expressed by several participates at the Commission’s public
hearing on February 25, 2004.
53
Kathleen M. Dennehy was named Commissioner of the DOC on March 16, 2004 and was Acting Commissioner
in February, 2004.

16

An external advisory board on corrections would provide necessary ongoing
monitoring and oversight of the DOC.
This Commission was created to determine whether the problems identified in the
Administrative Investigation were isolated incidents or raised questions for the entire system.
The reactive nature of our task is typical of correctional systems (or any large business, private,
or public institution), where highly publicized events often provide the only pressure for change.
The public safety and interest are best served, however, by systems that anticipate or identify
problems before serious harm occurs. Prevention is the best and cheapest form of public
protection.
The findings of this report document the problems that surface when a correctional system,
largely isolated from outside review for years, suddenly comes under scrutiny because of a
highly publicized event. Our findings also demonstrate the capacity for our correctional system
to develop in directions that are inconsistent with the Department’s ultimate mission and that
generate no pressure for reform, without external review of internal accountability.
Solving the Department’s existing problems is crucial but will not ensure public safety and
sound, efficient management in the future. The very nature of the correctional system ensures
that problems will resurface, and new problems will arise, unless the Commonwealth implements
a plan for continued vigilance. Corrections necessarily involves daily resolution of challenges in
dealing with inmates who can be needy, angry, violent or vulnerable. Those challenges include:
maintaining a professional culture in the face of a difficult, potentially dangerous environment;
instilling discipline in staff to follow department policy; preventing official power over inmates
from turning into abuse; protecting those who make or consider making reports of violations; and
operating within a system where staff loyalties may be divided. Faced with these obstacles,
human nature almost ensures that a closed correctional system, immune from meaningful outside
scrutiny, will generate problems, including disrespect of inmates, staff, management, visitors and
others; excesses in conduct and abuse and more. In that sense, the findings of this Commission
are not surprising, given the systems in place and the nature of these issues.
The sheer size of the Department, the size of its budget, and the scope of its enterprise suggest
that oversight and review of its operations would be sound public policy. The need for an
independent entity, composed of experts, to provide advice and, where necessary, criticism, of
the Department, will not disappear upon issuance of this Report. Ongoing developments and
shifting priorities will necessitate independent review by an advisory panel of persons with
relevant expertise, reporting to an official in a position to assist, direct and, where necessary,
criticize, the Department. Presently, the Secretary of Public Safety is in the position to receive
and act upon such reports.

17

RECOMMENDATIONS
The Department should revise its mission to include reducing the rate of reoffense by inmates released to the community.
In the winter of 2004, Commissioner Dennehy revised the mission of the Department as part of
her Strategic Plan.54 The Commission supports the revised mission in principle. We believe,
however, that rather than merely “providing opportunities” for participation in effective
programs, the new mission should set quantifiable goals and expectations for the Department.
Specifically, the Commission recommends that the mission include lowering the rate of reoffense by released inmates by a measurable amount. The Commission further recommends that
the Department specifically embrace the notion of “humane” incarceration within its mission.
The Department should adopt a performance management and
accountability system to enhance agency performance, improve the culture,
and utilize budget resources more effectively.
The Commissioner should adopt a performance management and accountability system based on
key measurements of agency performance. The Commission believes that this kind of
management system holds promise for dramatically improving the Department’s culture,
operations, and fiscal management. If done well, this type of management system has the
potential to:
¾ Clearly communicate all aspects of the Commissioner’s vision, mission, and values
throughout the organization and encourage acceptance at all levels;
¾ Reduce re-offending by released inmates by improving program and treatment
participation levels, promoting fairness, and closely monitoring recidivism rates;
¾ Improve agency performance by closely monitoring outcomes and setting measurable
goals for the future;
¾ Hold staff accountable for what occurs in their facilities;
¾ Provide the Commissioner with detailed and timely information on her full organization;
¾ Help to minimize the gaps between policy and practice;
¾ Encourage innovation and effective problem solving;
¾ Encourage more effective use of budget resources by requiring managers to focus on
excessive spending, including overtime usage.
As stated previously in our findings, the Commission is particularly impressed with elements of
the TEAMS model at Rikers Island in New York City. While the results in New York City and
elsewhere appear impressive, the Commission does not necessarily advocate for wholesale
adoption of this system, as Massachusetts could borrow elements from TEAMS, Hampden
54

The revised mission of the Department states: “The Massachusetts Department of Correction's mission is to
promote public safety by incarcerating offenders while providing opportunities for participation in effective
programming designed to reduce recidivism.”

18

County, Oregon and Washington state and others in customizing a system to meet the DOC’s
unique goals and needs. For example, in New York the average length of stay of inmates is 40
days. Thus, successful reentry and reduction of re-offense are not as important to measure in that
system. These would be critical indicators to track in Massachusetts, however. Therefore, we
recommend that the Department create a management system including the following
components:
¾ A system for accurately collecting data on key indicators of agency performance with
built-in safeguards to prevent data tampering. An initial set of baseline measurements
should be taken prior to implementation;
¾ Key indicators that are aligned with the goals of the Department. These would
necessarily include measures of inmate well being, responsibility, rehabilitation, reentry
and recidivism (see Appendix III);
¾ Accountability forums, chaired by the Commissioner, that focus on constructive problemsolving and innovation. This will help to ensure that accountability efforts are productive
and have the effect of raising morale and improving the culture;
¾ Specific goals for improvement, assessed on a quarterly and annual basis; and
¾ Published annual reports available to the public, detailing the Department’s overall
performance.
As with any new system of this magnitude, the Commission anticipates that implementation
would need to be phased in over time. However, this process could be achieved without a
significant infusion of new resources if budget resources were reallocated consistent with the
recommendations of this report. To begin, the agency would need to identify its goals and
values, and then develop and define key measurable indicators that are linked to the agency’s
progress in meeting them. In Appendix III, the Commission has synthesized a number of
performance indicators from different accountability systems as a suggested starting point in this
process. Second, the agency would need to develop the capacity to collect data accurately and in
a timely manner, and to utilize information technology to display and analyze the data.55 Third,
the Department would have to decide what type of forum was most appropriate to hold managers
accountable for their performance in a manner that helps educate the entire organization about
agency goals, values, and expectations.
The Department’s management capacity should be strengthened through the
collective bargaining process and revisions to the internal rank structure.
The Commission has found that the Department’s management rights have been severely limited
by prior collective bargaining agreements, particularly as they relate to assigning positions and
55

Over the past year, the Department has rolled out a new Inmate Management System (IMS) that should help the
Commissioner use data more effectively to analyze the performance of the agency with respect to the inmate
population. However, the design of the IMS does not adequately incorporate research and analytical tools to help
answer some fundamental questions particularly that would assess the Department’s support of reentry goals.
Further, the IMS will not capture important administrative and operational data that is not tied to inmates (overtime,
use of force incidents, weapon and drug finds), and the Department must develop some management information
system that helps track these indicators within and across institutions.

19

moving officers for the good of the Department. Presently, the MCOFU contract is under
collective bargaining. The Commission recommends that all of the parties use this opportunity
to define a more balanced labor contract. This may not be an easy process. The relationship
between MCOFU and management is noticeably strained.
We recommend common sense revisions to the labor contract to strengthen the most
fundamental management functions. Specifically, the Commission recommends:
¾ Eliminating the ability of officers to “own” positions for life, or a specified term, as they
do in three facilities.
¾ Increasing the percentage of superintendent picks to at least 25%.
¾ Providing superintendents with more authority to transfer and remove staff based on
credible facts for the overall benefit of the Department, without being subject to
arbitration, and a lower but fair standard of review should be put into effect by the
parties.
Additionally, in order to strengthen the Department’s management team and clarify distinctions
between labor and management, the rank structure should be revised. Correction officer
positions and supervisor positions could remain as bargaining unit positions, but the positions
that manage the shifts (currently captains) should be re-designated as management positions and
paid accordingly. The compensation for this position should be higher than that of correction
officers and supervisors to prevent collective bargaining unit employees from receiving
contractual pay increases and benefits not provided to managers.
There should be an external advisory board on corrections to monitor and
oversee the Department. The board should work cooperatively with the
Commissioner to develop concrete goals for the future of the Department.
Rather than relying solely upon assumptions about the direction of future management, the
Commission recommends the creation of permanent systemic safeguards to improve the present
system of oversight and investigations. In making these recommendations, we draw not only
upon our own findings and the in-depth evaluation of the Administrative Investigation, but upon
the knowledge that the system contains few safeguards to prevent deficiencies from re-surfacing.
Any ongoing advisory process must balance competing goals, and may require refinement
through an initial trial period, during which all parties will need to identify ways in which the
new system can be improved. On the one hand, to be effective, the system must have sufficient
independence from the Department. Without independence, the review may become simply a
means to justify decisions for which the Commissioner him/herself is responsible and thereby
fail to identify problems before damage is done, costs are sunk, and changing course becomes
more difficult. Independence also serves a reinforcing function, for a Commissioner embarking
upon promising but controversial policies may benefit from an independent review that validates
those policies.

20

At the same time, the oversight must not substantially limit the Commissioner’s authority and
accountability or that of her staff. Nor would it be efficient for such an oversight body to
micromanage the Department’s operations. Creating an oversight board that bypasses the chain
of command would allow officials to avoid difficult decisions that should be made within the
chain of command. Full cooperation between the Commissioner and the advisory board is, of
course, essential and in the best interests of both entities.
Resolution of these competing concerns is not easy. Nor is there a single solution that meets the
demands of all types of issues that will arise. In addition, the necessary expertise of the
independent review body varies, depending upon the task. Proliferation of a large number of
independent review boards would lead to confusion, diffusion of responsibility, and complicated
problems in coordinating the multiple reviews. For that reason, we recommend two different
types of independent review, one for management and policy reviews (similar to the scope of this
Commission) and one for investigations into specific complaints and incidents (See Section IV).
The charge to the policy advisory panel should be:
¾ In the short-term, assist the Commissioner in developing an action plan with priorities and
timelines for implementation of these recommendations;
¾ Apply its members’ expertise in corrections, health, finance, community needs,
community facilities, and public administration to identify and help propose solutions to
the problems faced by the Department;
¾ Report to the Secretary of Public Safety periodically regarding the Department’s
leadership, systems, operations and other functions, as requested by the Secretary;
¾ Strengthen leadership, both by reinforcing Departmental policies, practices and decisions
that promote the Department’s mission, and by identifying instances or patterns of events
and policies that disserve the mission;
¾ Recommend changes that will address identified flaws or deficiencies in the Department’s
approach to implementing its mission;
¾ Evaluate, from time to time, whether the Department’s statement of its mission needs
changes in direction or emphasis;
¾ Follow up on recommendations in this report, and in future reports, by establishing a
dialogue with the Commissioner regarding all such recommendations, including a reply
from the Commissioner on the status of implementation within six months.

21

III. FISCAL MANAGEMENT

T

he Department’s budget totals nearly $428 million. The overwhelming majority (73%) of
this budget is spent on staffing-related expenses (see Figure 5, below). By comparison,
salaries, benefits and wages make up about 65% of operating expenditures for prisons nation
wide.56 The overall cost to the Commonwealth for the Department’s staffing expenditures is
nearly $310 million per year.
Figure 5. Overall DOC Budget, FY 2004

Health care
15%

Utilities
4%

Staff salaries and fringe
73%

Other
3%

Food
2%
Programs
3%

Because staffing costs comprise the majority of the Department’s budget, the Commission
focused predominantly on staffing issues in examining and assessing the overall fiscal
management capacity and efficiency of the Department.

FINDINGS
As staffing costs comprise 73% of the DOC budget, the Department’s fiscal
management is closely linked with labor management.
The Department’s fiscal management is closely linked with the management of staff, and
relationships with the three labor unions. Our analysis of the staff-to-inmate ratio, labor
contracts negotiated over the past decade, worker absenteeism, industrial accidents and overtime
usage, reveals weak management performance and leadership that has come with a very high
price tag. We do not fault the labor unions in this regard nor criticize their “success.” In our
view, the issue is not how we arrived here, but how to effectively bolster the Department’s
management abilities and fiscal responsibility moving forward.

56

James J. Stephan, State Prison Expenditures, 2001, (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 2004), p.

4.

22

Staffing levels and contractual provisions
The Department has the second highest staff-to-inmate ratio (1:2) in the nation.57 In a recently
released national study, a high staff-to-inmate ratio was identified as the primary reason for high
operating costs per inmate.58 The largest labor union serving the Department, MCOFU,59
rightfully boasts on its website that its members are some of the highest paid corrections officers
in the country.60 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts’ correctional
officers are the third highest paid in the nation, behind New Jersey and California.61 The
Commission fully recognizes the valuable public service that correction officers perform. They
have a difficult and stressful job. Moreover, strong security in a prison system is fundamental,
and appropriate staffing levels are required to accomplish this goal.
The increases in correction officer salaries, as negotiated by management and state officials in
the last four labor contracts, have been significant compared to other wage earners in
Massachusetts. Correction officers’ salaries increased by between 70% and 77% since 1992, or
between 29% and 36% adjusted for inflation. By comparison, all Massachusetts wage earners
gained only 17.9% in their inflation-adjusted salaries over the same period. The salaries of U.S.
citizens as a whole increased 10.7% in the same time frame.62
An analysis of recent contracts illustrates the negotiated pay in the labor contract and the
increases management and state officials have permitted over time (Figure 6 below). This table
includes the contract salary provisions for a correctional officer in each level, assuming a
bachelor’s degree and 15 years of service to the Department, and excludes overtime and fringe
benefits such as health insurance or sick time, all of which contribute to budget category “staff
salaries and fringe” above.63
57

Ibid, p. 5. The Commission recognizes that architecture influences staffing needs.
Ibid.
59
According to the Massachusetts Department of Correction, MCOFU was certified as the exclusive bargaining
representative for employees in Bargaining Unit 4 in October 1989 by the Labor Relations Commissions. The
predecessor union was AFSCME council 93. While the Commonwealth and the MCOFU negotiated over a
successor collective bargaining agreement employees in Bargaining Unit 4 continued to work under the 1986-1989
ALLIANCE, AFSCME-SEIU, AFL-CIO collective bargaining agreement. The first collective bargaining agreement
with the MCOFU was not signed until April 15, 1992. This agreement covered the period of January 1, 1992
through December 31, 1994. Subsequent agreements were negotiated with MCOFU covering the periods January
1995 through December 1997, January 1998 through December 2000 and January 2001 through December
2003. Employees are continuing to work under the 2001-2003 agreement pending negotiation of a successor
agreement.
60
“Prior to the inception of the MCOFU Correction Officers made a base salary of $23,176.40 per year. We
advanced that base pay to $28,463.80 at the end of our first contract, and at the end of our current contract the base
salary will increase to $54,209.48 making us one of the highest paid Correction Officers in the country. These
figures do not include additional benefits such as shift differential, holiday pay, etc.” from www.mcofu.com
accessed April 7, 2004.
61
The top state for correctional officers and jailers pay is New Jersey, followed by California and Massachusetts.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages 2002,
www.bls.gov
62
Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Economic Accounts, http://www.bea.gov/bea/regional/reis/.
63
Those with less education would receive somewhat lower pay (and those with more education, somewhat more
money). The same is true for tenure in the Department.
58

23

Figure 6. Contract Provisions: Correctional Officers Salary, 1986 –200364
(Excludes fringe benefits and overtime pay)
1992

1995

2000

2003

% increase
from 1992

Total pay not adjusted for inflation

35,386

41,841

51,382

59,919

69.3%

Total pay adjusted for inflation

46,329

50,792

55,404

59,919

29.3%

Total pay not adjusted for inflation

37,130

49,120

56,331

65,647

76.8%

Total pay adjusted for inflation

48,611

59,628

60,741

65,647

35.0%

Total pay not adjusted for inflation

40,531

47,976

61,775

71,946

77.5%

Total pay adjusted for inflation

53,064

58,239

66,610

71,946

35.6%

Correctional Officer I

Correctional Officer II

Correctional Officer III

As of February 2004, correctional officers (levels I, II, III) earn on average $61,000, $69,000,
and $75,000 respectively, excluding benefits.65 When fringe health and retirement benefits are
included, the cost per full time employee is approximately $82,000, $92,000 and $100,000
excluding overtime (or a weighted average of $88,000). Captains earn on average $81,000, or
$109,000 per employee with health and retirement benefits included.
The MCOFU contract also provides:
¾ Five full-time employees on the executive board of the union are paid by the Department
to administer various aspects of the correction officer contract on behalf of the union.
This practice is highly unusual, and raises numerous legal, ethical and administrative
questions.66 The total cost to the Department is approximately $455,000 per year.
¾ A high number of labor management committees (18) meet on an as needed or set basis.
Committee members are paid out of the Department’s budget for their participation.

64

The average salary earned under this contract depends upon the composition of the workforce – how long people
have been with the Department, their education, and so forth. There are in fact multiple “steps” within each job
category (Correctional Officer I, etc.). Because nearly all employees are in the highest step, for parsimony, only the
highest step is tabulated. None of these calculations considers benefits such as vacation, sick time, or overtime pay,
however, 2003 includes $500 pay for tobacco prohibition.
65
Massachusetts Department of Correction, “CO I, II, II Average Salary as of 2/16/04,” (Boston, MA: 2004)
66
See M.G.L. c. 32, sec. 28K and Commonwealth v. Moses, 423 Mass. 667 (1996).

24

Worker absenteeism and industrial accidents
The costs of employee absenteeism and overtime pay are significant expenses that can and must
be reduced. Currently, overtime pay cost the Commonwealth nearly $16 million per year,
representing 5% of the overall staffing budget (see Figure 7).67
Figure 7: DOC Staffing Costs

Overtime
5%

Regular payroll
91%

Holiday pay A10
2%

Other
1%

Collective bargaining
1%

Correction officers use nearly 18 days of paid sick leave per year.68 Notably, the contract allows
every officer to take 5 unsubstantiated sick days per year. By comparison, the average sick leave
used by corrections officers with the Federal Bureau of Prisons is only 5.25 days per year.69 In
California, the state with the largest prison system in the country, the average sick leave used by
correction officers is 12.75 days per year.70
When tallying the total number of paid and unpaid days off per year used by correction officers,
an average of 60 days are taken, of which 52 are paid.71 In other words, correction officers use
one paid day off every week. This number is excessive. Overtime costs are also significantly
impacted by this absenteeism, because the more people are absent from work, the more likely it
is that overtime pay will be used.

67

Massachusetts Department of Correction, “FY 2004 Spending Plan.” Note: this figure includes overtime pay for
roll call.
68
Interview with Ronald Duval, Associate Commissioner of Administration, Massachusetts Department of
Correction, June 28, 2004. Note that this sick leave figure does not include FMLA, active military duty, or
industrial accident leave.
69
C. Allan Turner, "Organizational Culture and Cost Containment in Corrections: The Leadership Dimension."
Public Administration and Management, An Interactive Journal 3, 3 (1998)
70
"Unholy Triad Drives Costs-Use Data to Better Manage Prisons," Sacramento Bee, April 27, 2004.
71
Interview with Ronald Duval, Associate Commissioner of Administration, Massachusetts Department of
Correction, June 28, 2004. These figures are for the time period of 12-29-02 through 12-27-03. According to the
Department, these figures do not include active military duty. These are average figures, therefore the Commission
cannot determine whether the high figures are due to a few egregious situations, or a system-wide pattern. In either
case, the cost to the Department is too high.

25

Correction officers use an average of 52 paid days off per year – or one paid
day off every week.
The total cost to the Department for the 17.5 sick days used per correction officer is over $21
million per year.72 This is the equivalent of the cost of over 230 correction officers, exclusive of
overtime.
Moreover, on a given day, there are approximately 250 to 300 correction officers, including
captains, out of work due to industrial accidents. As of the end of May 2004, there were 313
workers out on industrial accident leave.73 During the past year this amounted to an average of
nearly 13 days per correction officer.74 The number of industrial accident claims has increased
dramatically over the past five years. In 1998 there were 343 “lost time” claims (those where an
employee was out 5 days or more), and by 2003, this number increased to 1,847 claims, a 438%
increase in five years.75 Management must study staffing and conditions to determine if the job
has become significantly more dangerous, and if so, how to reduce these risks as a major human
resources issue. The direct costs of industrial accident leave to the Department are tremendous.
Figure 8. Industrial Accident Direct Costs to DOC, FY 200376

Worker compensation

$10,930,54377

Medical bills

$1,602,199

HRD administrative fee

$734,201

Settlements

$342,749

Rehabilitation

$137,740

Total direct cost (excludes
cost to fill vacancies)

$13,750,434

There are three types of pay given to injured workers: (1) “non-violent” injury pay, for injuries
sustained on the job (a slip and fall for example); (2) “responding” pay, for injuries sustained in
72

In making this calculation, the Commission used the weighted average ($88,000) cost for correction officers to
determine a weekly cost per officer ($1,692), and multiplied that by the number weeks of sick time utilized (3.5) and
multiplied that by 3,600 correction officers.
73
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Industrial Accidents Departmental Wide by BU Active IA's 313,
(Concord, MA: Research and Planning Division, May 26, 2004).
74
Interview with Ronald Duval, Associate Commissioner of Administration, Massachusetts Department of
Correction, June 28, 2004. These figures are for the time period of 12-29-02 through 12-27-03.
75
Massachusetts Department of Correction, IA History from 1998-2003, (Concord, MA: Research and Planning
Division, June 2004).
76
Massachusetts Department of Correction, IA payments made by HRD Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 152, (Concord, MA:
Research and Planning Division, June 1, 2004).
77
This figure does not include the costs to the Department for retirement benefits.

26

responding to an alarm/incident in a facility; and (3) “violence pay,” for injuries sustained due to
an act of inmate violence.78 Presently, nearly two thirds of the Department’s injured workers are
out under categories (2) and (3).79 This fact is important because those individuals are
compensated at 100% of their full pay, tax free.80 In fact, they earn more by staying out of work
than if they were to return to work, due to the tax benefit. This rate of compensation creates a
disincentive for injured correction officers to return to work in an expeditious manner.
A separate agency of the Commonwealth, the Human Resources Division (HRD), has control
over the administrative functions of workers compensation for all state employees.81 Because
the ultimate responsibility for administering industrial accident cases is outside of its control, the
Department has little ability to expedite the claims process, or improve management and
monitoring as a human resources benefit to the Department and its staff, with a goal toward cost
savings. The Department has a great deal of incentive to swiftly administer the cases, and
investigate suspected abuses, as the compensation payments come directly out of its budget. By
contrast, HRD receives funds for administering the system, but is not charged for the
compensation provided. Moreover, HRD’s workers’ compensation staffing has been reduced to
levels that are inadequate in order to handle the demands of the Department.82 We believe costs
have escalated largely due to weak management performance and failed human resources and
employee benefits administration.

RECOMMENDATIONS
The Department should take responsibility for bringing down staffing costs
and reducing worker absenteeism.
Correction officers’ work is critically important. The vast majority of corrections officers are
honest, hard working public servants who deserve fair and appropriate compensation and
benefits for the difficult work they do. In light of the fact that Massachusetts corrections officers
are among the highest paid in the nation, we believe that 60 days off per year (52 of which are
paid) is excessive. There are many steps the Department can take, both in the collective
bargaining process, and through stronger management techniques, to more effectively manage
staffing costs, and address workplace safety risks.

78

Interview of Kelly Correira, Worker’s Compensation Coordinator, and Robin Borgestedt, Counsel, May 26, 2004.
Massachusetts Department of Correction, “Industrial Accident Departmental Wide Current IA Totals by Type,”
(Concord, MA: May 26, 2004).
80
MGL c. 30, sec. 58; Memorandum of Understanding, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts
Correction Officers Federated Union Collective Bargaining Agreement, January 2001-December 2003, p.155.
81
MGL c. 7, sec. 4A. Because the cost of industrial accident cases to the Department is so significant, the
Department established its own small unit which duplicates the administrative functions for workers compensation
at HRD to help monitor and expedite these cases. However, the Department does not have independent control and
responsibility, and is still charged an administrative fee of nearly one million dollars each year by the state.
82
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Strategic Planning Guide, (Concord, MA: 2004)
79

27

In re-negotiating the labor contract we recommend:
¾ Eliminating the provision for 5 unsubstantiated sick days;
¾ Eliminating pay for the five union stewards, which costs the Department approximately
$455,000 annually;
¾ Eliminating a significant number of the 18 paid labor/management committees;
¾ Any other reasonable modifications to bring down the 60 days off used per correction
officer each year.
In bolstering internal management efforts we recommend:
¾ A staffing analysis conducted by an independent consulting firm in order to satisfy
management and the unions that the Department is operating within nationally accepted
standards of staffing. Labor and management must agree to use best efforts to abide by
the outcome of the study;
¾ The ability to hire and train additional corrections officers if supported by the staffing
analysis;
¾ Monthly reports on sick and overtime usage and industrial accident cases delivered to the
Commissioner by the superintendent of each facility (i.e., incorporate measures into a
TEAMS approach); and
¾ An overtime budget for each superintendent that is not to be exceeded.
In addressing industrial accidents we recommend:
¾ The administration of workers compensation cases must either be placed under the direct
control of the Department or strengthened at the state level. At a minimum, HRD should
consider creating a dedicated unit to more effectively manage corrections claims.
¾ The Department should review and analyze its industrial accident cases by facility to
determine whether particular remedial actions could be taken to address safety and
environmental risks (in conjunction with a staffing analysis, as recommended above).
¾ The Department should consider techniques, such as daily contact from human resources
professionals (caring – not punitive), to assist employees in returning to work in an
expeditious manner.
¾ Modifications to state law should be considered to remove disincentives for DOC
employees to return to work because they are receiving 100% of their pay tax free, while
at the same time ensuring just compensation for those unable to work due to job-related
injuries.83
¾ The Department should continue its recent efforts to address fraudulent claims by
referring information to the Office of the Attorney General.84

83
84

Specifically, MGL c. 30, sec. 58.
“Fake Disability Lands Guard Behind Bars,” Boston Herald, May 22, 2004.

28

The Department’s budget should be more closely aligned with its mission and
priorities. This will enhance public safety in a fiscally responsible manner.
As noted above, the Department’s budget is substantial. However, the Commission does not
advocate for reductions in that budget. Instead, we believe that the Department’s budget should
be reallocated, consistent with our recommendations, to ensure that the budget expenditures
more closely reflect the DOC’s mission and full set of priorities. The vast majority of the DOC
budget is allocated for paying for security staff and related expenses. Surprisingly, only 3% of
the budget is allocated for inmate programs.85 The Commission recommends that, moving
forward, the Department should align its budget more closely with the full set of its priorities,
including successful prisoner reentry, described in detail in the next chapter. While strong
security is clearly essential and should not be compromised, the gaping disparity between
security staff costs and inmate programs targeting recidivism should be minimized. The
Commission believes this can be achieved over time by implementing the recommendations of
this report and reallocating appropriate cost savings (see Section VI).

85

Presentation by Kyra Silva, Acting Budget Director, March 24, 2004. While 3% was the figure provided to the
Commission, this figure does not include program staff salaries. The Commission presumes that if salaries were
included in the computation, this figure may be subject to change.

29

IV. PUBLIC SAFETY AND INMATE REENTRY

R

ecent efforts nationally and in Massachusetts have highlighted the challenges of the
transition from “inmate” under the authority of the Department of Correction to “civilian”
responsible for productive activity in the spheres of work, family, and community life. These
transitions can have significant social consequences, as successful reintegration will decrease
crime, reduce the costs of the criminal justice system, and improve the lives of the victims and
other citizens, particularly those in the most disadvantaged communities in the state.

The overwhelming majority (97%) of inmates will eventually be released from prison. The fact
is that a significant share of inmates released from DOC custody will not make the transition
successfully. The recidivism rate among released offenders in Massachusetts is high (as it is
nationally).86 Of those released in Massachusetts in 1997, 19% were reconvicted within one year
and 48% were reconvicted within three years.87
Numerous studies have documented the deficiencies in inmates’ skills and work experience, the
challenges of reconstructing life after release, and how policies can hinder successful
reintegration.88 These insights have reinforced the fact that criminal justice decision-making
does not end with sentencing. They have also provided useful data and ideas for designing
improved corrections and reentry systems. Massachusetts is the beneficiary of several recent, indepth research efforts on the legal, policy, and institutional environment of corrections in the
state, including reports by the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Innovation,
MassINC, the Boston Bar Association, Community Resources for Justice, and Crime and Justice
Institute.89
We do not intend to re-invent the wheel on this topic. Rather, we have considered prisoner
reentry and opportunities for self-improvement in the context of the goals, policies, and
operations of the Department and have drawn from these other solid efforts to inform our
86

Patrick A. Langan and David Levin, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994, (Washington D.C.: Bureau of
Justice Statistics, 2002)
87
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division, Recidivism of 1997 Released
Department of Correction Inmates, (Concord, MA: Massachusetts Department of Correction, 2003). Because of
definitional differences between Massachusetts and the Bureau of Justice Statistics study only reconviction rates,
and not re-incarceration rates, can be compared. In Massachusetts, re-incarceration included state correctional
institutions, houses of correction, jails, and federal facilities. In the 15 states include in the BJS study, reincarceration include state correctional institutions, but did not include local jails.
88
See Joan Petersilia. When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry (New York: Oxford University
Press, 2003), Jeremy Travis, Amy Solomon, and Michelle Waul, From Prison to Home: The Dimensions and
Consequences of Prisoner Reentry (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, 2001), Legal Action Center, After
Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry: A Report on State Legal Barriers Facing People with Criminal Records,
(Washington, DC: 2004)
89
Governor's Commission on Criminal Justice Innovation, Reentry and Post-Release Supervision Subcommittee
Final Report, (Boston, MA: State of Massachusetts, 2004), Anne Morrison Piehl, From Cell to Street: A Plan to
Supervise Inmates After Release, (Boston: MassINC, 2002), Boston Bar Association, Report of the Boston Bar
Association Task Force on Parole and Community Reintegration, (Boston, MA: 2002), Community Resources for
Justice, Returning Inmates: Closing the Public Safety Gap, (Boston, MA: 2001), Ginger Martin and Cheryl Roberts,
From Incarceration to Community: A Roadmap to Improving Prisoner Reentry and System Accountability in
Massachusetts, (Boston, MA: Crime and Justice Institute, 2004)

30

recommendations. The aim of this effort is to consider how corrections reforms might be
structured to produce a system that provides better results for public safety, as well as for
taxpayers, DOC employees, and inmates.
In addition to public safety gains from reduced re-offending, productively occupying inmates’
time is one way to hold them accountable. If inmates get used to spending their time engaged in
productive activities, such as work, education, volunteer service, substance abuse and/or mental
health treatment, and release planning, then these habits will more easily translate into a
productive, crime-free life in the community after release.
The Department clearly
communicates to inmates the expectations regarding their behavior and holds them accountable
for misconduct with a variety of sanctions. The Department should also have high expectations
for inmates and accountability mechanisms related to productive activities as well.
The following questions guided the Commission’s assessment of inmate accountability and
reentry: What is expected of inmates during their time of incarceration? What are the
incentives, if any, to participate in productive activities while incarcerated? What do the current
Department offerings look like in terms of eligibility for participation, program offerings, and
capacity for participation? How do opportunities for productive activity align with other
Departmental mandates, such as maintaining safe and secure environments and providing
adequate medical care? Are there legal or other external restrictions that prevent the Department
from fully implementing its mission?

FINDINGS
The Department does not adequately prepare inmates for release back to the
community.
Preparing inmates for release with the goal of reducing recidivism has been a relatively low
priority in the Department. As discussed earlier, this fact is a result of both internal and external
pressures on the Department to place an even greater emphasis on incapacitation and
surveillance. A few examples reflect the low priority of both Department and the Legislature
when it comes to reducing re-offense by inmates following their release from prison. In recent
years, several minimum and pre-release facilities have been closed. Just three percent of the
current budget is allocated to inmate programs, and in 2002 the Department’s education line item
was cut by $1.1 million.
Given the high cost of crime on communities and on victims, and the high cost of incarcerating
offenders ($43,000 per person per year in Massachusetts), the social benefits of reducing
recidivism are substantial. At a time when crime rates have fallen to levels not seen in decades,
criminal justice agencies have an opportunity to think strategically about working with inmates
to reduce their re-offending. With lower crime and constant recidivism rates, former inmates
may be responsible for an increasing share of crimes committed. Therefore, reducing crime by
former inmates should be an important and appropriate priority for our criminal justice and law
enforcement systems, including the DOC.

31

Inmates generally come into the system with problems that make a successful transition back
into society more difficult. Inmates in this country are disproportionately poorly educated with
limited work experience, and have extraordinary physical health, mental health, and substance
abuse problems.90 These characterizations fit the Massachusetts prison population precisely.
¾ Approximately 47% of state inmates in Massachusetts did not have a high school diploma
or a GED when their sentence began. Even more striking, 14% of admitted inmates had
not made it past the 8th grade at the time of their prison admission.91
¾ The rate of health problems (physical, mental, and substance abuse) is substantially
elevated among inmates. According to the Department, between 2.75% and 3.5% of the
inmate population is HIV positive and 30% tested positive for Hepatitis C.92 About one of
every five inmates (22%) has an open mental health case. A full 65% of women have
open mental health cases.93 The majority of inmates have extensive histories of alcohol
and substance abuse problems. However, there is uncertainty about the precise number
addicted at the time of admission to prison.
¾ Few Massachusetts inmates have a career path to resume after release. In fact, few even
have substantial work experience of any kind. Nationally, 31 percent of inmates were
unemployed in the month prior to their arrest, compared to the overall unemployment rate
of approximately 5%.94
All of these deficits increase the probability that ex-inmates will re-offend. There is a large body
of research evidence showing that if these (and other) criminal risk factors are addressed, the
public will benefit from reduced crime.95 There is also an emerging consensus about which
program elements are most effective.96 As correctional practice becomes more sophisticated in
designing and targeting programs to those who need them most, society can expect to benefit.
Given that those released from state prison in Massachusetts have served an average of five years
in prison,97 there is adequate time to address some of these severe gaps in education, health, and
90

Stefan LoBuglio, "Time to Reframe Politics and Practices in Correctional Education," in Annual Review of Adult
Learning and Literacy, ed. by J. Comings, B. Garner and C. Smith. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001), 111-150,
Joan Petersilia. When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry (New York: Oxford University Press,
2003).
91
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division,, January 1, 2002 Inmate Statistics,
(Concord, MA: ), Table 8. Education levels are self-reported at the time of admission.
92
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Health Services Division, February 2, 2004.
93
Data were originally provided to the Legislative Correction Budget Task Force by the Department and
subsequently forwarded to the Commission in an April 13, 2004 letter.
94
Data shown are for 1997. General Accounting Office, 2000, State and Federal Prisoners: Profiles of Inmate
Characteristics in 1991 and 1997, (Washington, DC: General Accounting Office). Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Labor Force Statistics., http://bls.gov/cps/home.htm.
95
Ginger Martin and Cheryl Roberts, From Incarceration to Community: A Roadmap to Improving Prisoner
Reentry and System Accountability in Massachusetts, (Boston, MA: Crime and Justice Institute, 2004)
96
Gerald G. Gaes, et al., "Adult Correctional Treatment," in Prisons: Crime and Justice: A Review of the Research,
ed. by M. H. Tonry and J. Petersilia. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 361-426.
97
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division, Releases from the Massachusetts
Department of Correction During 2002, (Concord, MA: 2003), Table 25. Note that among males released in 2002,
34% had 200 or more days of jail credit. This may mean that some of inmates do not spend nearly this long in the
facilities of the Department. The specifics of these flows must be considered when designing programming options.

32

vocational experience. At a minimum we ought to do what we can while we have them in
custody, to try to have them leave less dangerous and likely to commit crime, than they were
when they came in. However, taking full advantage of the opportunity to reduce the criminal
risks of those in prison requires a deep commitment to structure the Department’s budget and
practices around this goal. In practice, the criminal justice system generally does not provide
good support for correctional agencies taking on this task that is so essential to minimizing
recidivism and the costs of corrections.98 Other agencies could do much more to support the
Department’s work to reduce re-offense by returning inmates. Despite these external challenges,
the Department could also do much better.
The Commission assessed preparations for release to the community along four dimensions: 1)
risk and needs assessment, 2) program offerings, 3) step-down to release, and 4) community
connections.
The Department can enhance its use of risk assessments to help minimize the rate of reoffense by released inmates.
The Department has a system for assessing the risks of re-offense upon release when inmates
enter prison that results in an individualized Risk Reduction Plan (RRP). However, in order to
be most effective, inmate risk assessment must be closely linked with the proper array of
programs designed to reduce risks. The Department should use the information collected from
the risk assessments to guide decision-making about which programs the Department should
offer. Once these programs are in place, correctional program officers, those responsible for
monitoring compliance with the RRP, should be able to effectively use incentives to help ensure
adherence to the plan.
Risk assessment and the inmate classification must be considered together. Program offerings
and participation vary by security level. Higher security generally means fewer opportunities for
inmates to engage in productive activities, as movement is more time intensive and classes must
be smaller. The shift over time in Massachusetts toward holding inmates in higher security
levels (see Figure 3) suggests a decline in the amount of program opportunities for the
population. While it may not be practical to offer equivalent program options to people
regardless of housing unit, it is possible to develop different types of programming for different
settings. Some state systems value education’s contribution to institutional culture so much that
they require that all inmates, even those in administrative segregation, participate in some
educational activity.99
The next chapter contains a broad set of critiques of the current classification scheme and the
way it is implemented. The Department and the Commissioner are well aware of many, if not
all, of these critiques, and have sought a review of its classification instrument.
98

Anne Morrison Piehl, Stefan F. LoBuglio, and Richard B. Freeman, Prospects for Re-entry: Designing and
Implementing Effective Re-entry Systems, (Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute working paper no. 125,
2003)
99
The California Youth Authority has transformed its institutions around the provision of education. It is no longer
seen as a “program” but as an essential part of the operations of the facilities. “CYA Education Earns National
Status at the Innovations in American Government Awards,” California Youth Authority Today, December 1999.

33

The type and extent of programs currently offered by the Department is insufficient.
Well-designed programs can substantially reduce re-offense after release.100 The recent report
from the Crime and Justice Institute describes the most recent research on criminal risk factors
and the programs to reduce them (also known as evidence-based programs).101 But the Crime
and Justice Institute report includes an important caution: only a minority of programs in the
country is evidence-based and well targeted. Like the Governor’s Commission on Criminal
Justice Innovation and the Crime and Justice Institute, we find that the DOC is not making
maximal use of the existing research and guidance for improving prisoner reentry.
It appears from the Department website and printed materials that programming is an essential
part of its activities, and the array of course titles is impressive: Father’s Groups, HIV
Awareness, Alcoholics Anonymous, various basic education classes, and many types of religious
services, among many others. However, these programs are not delivered in sufficient numbers
or organized so that inmates experience a set of appropriate activities targeted to their
particular crime risks. In fact, a relatively small number of inmates participate in programs or
work opportunities while in prison.102
We do not know exactly the level of program participation,103 but some of the available data
indicate a dramatic decline in program offerings in the last decade.104 For example:
¾ As a result of the $1.1 million budget cut in FY 2002, 36 full time teachers have been laid
off, several vocational programs have been eliminated, including drafting, HVAC, small
engine repair, building trades and maintenance, and auto body, and academic programs
have been eliminated at some facilities, including special education and ESL.105
¾ The number of GEDs awarded has dropped from 351 in 2000 to 113 in 2002.
¾ The number of female inmates participating in family services has dropped by 60%
between 2000 and 2004.
¾
The closing of SECC and MCI-Shirley minimum resulted in the loss of 110 Correctional
Recovery Academy (CRA) beds.106
¾ The number of inmates completing the first phase of CRA declined from 724 inmates in
2000 to 380 in 2003 – a 48% decline in three years.
100

Lawrence W. Sherman, et al., Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising. Research in
Brief. National Institute of Justice, (Washington, DC:, 1998)
101
Ginger Martin and Cheryl Roberts, From Incarceration to Community: A Roadmap to Improving Prisoner
Reentry and System Accountability in Massachusetts, (Boston, MA: Crime and Justice Institute, 2004)
102
This premise is supported by the superintendents’ survey responses, oral and written testimony, and inmate focus
groups and letters.
103
The available data on program capacity, enrollment, and waiting lists do not easily allow for system-level
analysis. Because each facility reports information differently and because programs rotate across facilities or run in
cycles, accurate comparisons across facilities is difficult.
104
This was partly the result of the $1.1 million line item budget cut in FY2002 and rising costs in other areas. It
was also partly a reflection of the Department’s priorities.
105
Data provided by the Department to the Commission on December 22, 2003.
106
The Correctional Recovery Academy is a residential program that addresses several issues, such as substance
abuse, criminal thinking, anger management and relapse prevention.

34

¾ ESL is no longer available at MCI-Framingham.
In addition, the demand for program and work opportunities greatly outweighs the supply.
¾ The Correctional Recovery Academy, currently available in eight facilities, has over 500
inmates on the waiting list.
¾ Despite the fact that 47% of the prisoner population does not have a high school diploma
or GED, only 321 (out of 4,000) individuals are currently enrolled in a GED program.107
¾ At MCI-Norfolk there are 475 jobs for an inmate population of about 1,400 inmates and at
MCI-Shirley there are 436 jobs for a population of about 1,100.
¾ The total Department enrollment in traditional education programs, including Adult Basic
Education, ESL, Pre-GED, GED, Computer Literacy, and the Boston University program,
is just under 1,600, which is at most 17% of the inmate population.108 It is also important
to note that education programs are conducted on an academic schedule (nine months out
of the year).
Poor utilization of the time of inmates in higher levels of security is particularly problematic in
Massachusetts for several reasons. First, a high proportion of inmates are in high security
facilities relative to other states. Second, large numbers of inmates do not receive post-release
supervision. Third, not enough prisoners are “stepped down” to lower security levels prior to
release. Together, these factors, which are discussed later in the report, mean that the state
largely misses the opportunity to reduce the criminal risks of the population behind bars. The
consequences of this are particularly serious for those with the highest risks of re-offending.
Inmate programs account for a relatively small share of the budget (approximately 3%, or $14.2
million in 2004, see Figure 9).109 The Division of Inmate Training and Education has
experienced dramatic budget cuts in recent years. Between 2001 and 2004, its budget decreased
by 43% from $5.33 million to $3.72 million.

107

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division,, January 1, 2002 Inmate Statistics,
(Concord, MA: 2002), Table 8. Education levels are reported at the time of admission.
108
This is a conservative estimate. It does not account for inmates who may be enrolled in more than one education
program.
109
Massachusetts Department of Correction. Programs in this context include inmate work programs, educational
services, community resource centers, substance abuse and anger management counseling, and sex offender
community access boards, examiners, and treatment.

35

Figure 9. Division of Inmate Training and Education Budget, 1994 – 2004

($ millions)
$6.00
$5.67
$5.53

Not Adjusted for Inflation

$5.45

$5.33

Adjusted for Inflation
$4.98

$5.00

$4.87

$4.96
$4.53

$4.33

$4.31

$4.28

$4.16
$4.01
$4.00

$4.04
$3.92

$3.92

$3.72
$3.38

$3.37

$3.33

$3.33

$3.00

$2.00

$1.00

$1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Finally, the Commission has heard an impressive consensus, including from the leadership of
three major unions, that better programs equate to better prison security.110 Superintendents and
representatives from each of these unions expressed their belief that busy prisoners, as opposed
to idle prisoners, facilitate their efforts to operate orderly and secure facilities.111 Correctional
management research makes clear that a wide range of meaningful programs is a necessary (but
not sufficient) element of operating prisons and jails in an orderly, cost-effective manner.112
The Department does not sufficiently step prisoners down in security levels in preparation for
release.
Approximately 75% of DOC inmates are released directly to the street from maximum or
medium security confinement, while only 21% of the inmates are released from minimum
110

These unions are IBCO, MCOFU, and SEIU Local 509.
Based on the Commission's survey of correction officers, more than half of the correction officers who completed
the survey said that prisoner programs do not affect their daily responsibilities, approximately one-quarter thought
that they made their daily responsibilities more difficult and approximately one-quarter thought that they made their
daily responsibilities easier.
112
John J. DiIulio, Jr., No Escape (New York: Basic Books, 1991), p.114.
111

36

security (4% are released from county, federal, or other states’ facilities). The low proportion of
inmates at minimum security is a serious impediment to successful reentry and an indicator that
this part of the Department’s mission has received inadequate attention, for whatever reason.
A graduated reentry back to the community can help reduce re-offending upon release. A series
of articles on classification and the policy of stepping down to release113 in Massachusetts found
that inmates who moved down through the security levels during their terms of incarceration had
lower rates of recidivism than one would have predicted from their risk characteristics.114 A
recently completed study of federal prison inmates found that inmates placed in a higher level of
security had appreciably higher rates of re-arrest (approximately 50%) following release.115
These results indicate that a strictly punitive approach to corrections has negative public safety
consequences. This study supports the advice of the American Correctional Association to house
inmates at the lowest security level consistent with public safety.116 Common sense and a regard
for safety and fiscal prudence support this advice as well.
Reentry preparation activities come closest to simulating the types of behaviors that will be
required of inmates after release. Because classification policies and procedures are not
producing a “step down” in custody level prior to release for most inmates, many go from a
highly structured and restrictive environment one day to a completely unstructured, unrestricted
environment the next (freedom). This is particularly problematic for those inmates released from
higher security levels with no supervision following release.117 For these inmates, the
Department really is the “end of the line” of the criminal justice system, and our last best chance
to intervene to help protect the public.

113

Stepping down to release provides inmates with a gradual transition toward more individual responsibility while
still under the legal authority of the Department. This requires the periodic review of an inmate’s security status
under a plan of moving inmates into less restrictive settings as they move toward their release date, where consistent
with public safety.
114
Daniel P. LeClair and Susan Guarino-Ghezzi, "Does Incapacitation Guarantee Public Safety? Lessons from the
Massachusetts Furlough and Prerelease Programs." Justice Quarterly 8, 1 (1991), Daniel P. LeClair and Susan
Guarino-Ghezzi, "Prison Reintegration Programs: An Evaluation." Corrections Management Quarterly 1, 4 (1997),
Daniel P. LeClair, "The Effect of Prison-Based Reintegrative Shaming Programming on Rates of Recidivism."
American Society of Criminology, (1997)
115
These recidivism improvements occurred for those on the margin of low security (versus medium) in the federal
system. M. Keith Chen and Jesse M. Shapiro, Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach,
(New Haven, CT: Yale University, Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper no. 1450, January 2004). In this study, the
authors used the points-based classification system of the federal prison system to cleanly separate risk from prison
conditions. That is, they statistically compared those who nearly qualified for “low” security (but instead were
placed in the less restrictive “minimum” security facilities) to those who barely qualified for “low” security.
116
One cannot be sure if the increased recidivism of those in higher security facilities is the result of association with
other inmates or the restrictions on movement, programming, and individual responsibility. Furthermore, the results
are not based on the most recent experience in Massachusetts.
117
See Anne Morrison Piehl, From Cell to Street: A Plan to Supervise Inmates After Release, (Boston: MassINC,
2002)

37

The Department does not make strong enough connections with the community before release.
Inmates transition more successfully following release if they have productive relationships with
institutions in the community that can assist with their multiple needs for housing, employment,
treatment, emotional support, and more.118 Correctional agencies have challenges facilitating
these relationships when facilities are far from the communities the inmates come from, often
urban, and to which they are likely to return following release. These agencies can help
community institutions “reach in” to the DOC to make these connections, or can develop prerelease centers located in the most relevant communities.
The average prisoner makes few community connections prior to release. In fact, policy has
been moving in the opposite direction: several pre-release facilities have been closed in recent
months.119 At the same time, the state’s other efforts to provide community-based testing,
programming and supervision (the Community Corrections Centers under the Department of
Probation and the Community Resource Centers under the Department of Correction) have not
lived up to their advertised potential for facilitating reentry with community organizations and
centralizing correctional services. The Department is currently revamping its community efforts
while developing a deeper partnership with Parole, by reorganizing the Community Resource
Centers as Regional Reentry Centers to be funded by $1.2 million from the DOC and managed
by the Parole. This effort also involves greater collaboration, including a common risk
assessment. This new initiative tries to generate greater coordination across agencies and within
divisions of the Department.
In contrast, the innovations that have received praise in Massachusetts are those operating at the
local level, some of which involve the Department as a partner. The Hampden County Sheriff’s
Department has been honored for its work bringing health providers into the correctional facility
to allow for uninterrupted treatment; Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department has partnered with
Boston Police to target enforcement and services to those at highest risk; the Department has
developed a partnership to step down inmates through Hampden County Sheriff’s Department;
the Department is working with the Lowell Police Department to improve reentry to that
community; and a federal grant (Serious and Violent Offender Program) is supporting the
coordination of multiple agencies in the state around prisoner reentry.
Given the locations of its main facilities, the Department is at a disadvantage in bridging
relationships with communities. This is particularly the case for women inmates housed at MCI
Framingham. Therefore, the Department must continue to develop locally-informed and locallybased initiatives. The current challenge is to bring existing programs from the pilot stage to a
scale that covers the majority of inmates. This is a major challenge, as going to scale requires

118

See Jeremy Travis and Michelle Waul, eds., Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration on Families,
Children, and Communities. (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press, 2004), Dale Parent and L. Barnett,
Transition from Prison to Community Initiative, (Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections, 2003)
119
See Figure 2, Department of Correction New Beds and Closed Beds.

38

institutionalizing practices and procedures that are frequently at odds with usual correctional
practice.120
The Department does not hold prisoners accountable for participating in
productive activities such as programs, work, and treatment.
The DOC sets clear expectations for prisoners regarding rules and behavior, and makes it very
clear that non-compliance will be met with negative consequences. Yet, the Department expects
relatively little of prisoners in terms of their participation in productive activities that could
improve their reentry back to the community.121 The culture, laws and policies surrounding
incarceration in Massachusetts actually tolerate and encourage inactivity and idleness. There are
few incentives for staying busy with a regular job, completing a treatment program, or obtaining
a GED. While the onus is absolutely always on the inmate to take responsibility for his/her own
personal development, the DOC can encourage positive behavior by making a clear statement
about what is expected, and by acting on it.
Prisoner participation in productive activities has value because of the potential to obtain skills
and experiences that will help inmates become law-abiding, productive members of society. The
Commission is especially interested in seeing that prisoners participate in evidence-based
programs that are shown to reduce rates of recidivism. In addition, reducing idle time of
prisoners clearly enhances overall prison security, as inmates have less time, energy, and
opportunity to be disruptive.
The Commission heard a great deal of testimony on the fact that prisoners have far too much idle
time. This was also supported by our inmate focus groups and inmate correspondence. These
low levels of activity could be the result of several factors:
¾ Programs and work opportunities are limited.
¾ Programs and work opportunities exist, but enrollment is limited.
¾ Programs and work opportunities exist, but prisoners are not eligible to participate for
reasons such as sentencing constraints.
¾ Programs and work opportunities exist, but prisoners are not held accountable for idle
time, or given incentives to participate in productive activities.
While some combination of all of these factors may contribute to prisoner idleness, setting clear
expectations and holding prisoners accountable for spending their time productively is a first step
toward breaking a culture that tolerates inactivity. The Commission is particularly impressed
with Hampden County Sheriff Department’s prisoner accountability model (discussed in detail in
the following section). This model utilizes a “carrot and stick” approach to encourage maximum
participation in programs designed to promote a successful reentry back to the community.
120

Anne Morrison Piehl, Stefan F. LoBuglio, and Richard B. Freeman, Prospects for Re-entry: Designing and
Implementing Effective Reentry Systems, (Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute working paper no. 125,
2003)
121
For the purpose of this report, productive activities include educational programs, vocational programs, substance
abuse treatment programs, cognitive thinking programs, and employment, among others.

39

Using incentives to encourage prisoner participation and good behavior has long been a part of
correctional practices.122 The most familiar incentive system (and perhaps the greatest
motivator) is the deduction of time from a sentence for demonstrated good behavior including
participation in certain activities (otherwise known as “good time”). Another common
correctional incentive applies to prisoners whose release dates are determined by a parole board.
Such prisoners have incentives to behave and to participate in productive activities, in order to
increase the chances that they will be granted parole. Both of these incentive systems have been
scaled back significantly in Massachusetts in the past 10 to 15 years.123
Earned good time, which currently exists, awards days off of a sentence as a result of
participation in certain activities. The state’s good time statute allows for up to 7.5 days per
month to be earned by participating in various programs. Prisoners can earn up to 2.5 days per
month for employment, 2.5 days per month for education programs, and 2.5 days per month for
other, pre-approved programs and activities.124
Despite this written policy, like so many other “policies” we note in this report which exist on
paper, it is unclear the extent to which earned good time is actually used in practice. According
to one estimate, the average earned good time credit awarded to inmates is less than half the
allowable time at three days per month.125 In order to be awarded good time, prisoners must
have access to and be eligible for programs that qualify for good time and must not be barred
from earning time by the terms of their sentence (e.g., many mandatory minimum sentences
prohibit earned good time). As discussed earlier, the number of programs and work
opportunities available to prisoners is inadequate. Many programs and work assignments have
waiting lists; others are only available in a few facilities. In addition, many programs currently
offered by the Department, including almost all run by volunteers, do not qualify as good time
programs.
Models of effective reentry planning exist and could be useful for the
Department.
Models exist for comprehensive systems designed to help inmates successfully transition from
prison to the community. These models are implemented at the time that the inmate is sentenced
and are designed to assist them through their adjustment to life outside prison. These models are
intended to increase public safety, reduce recidivism and victimization, and make better use of
scarce resources. These models are comprehensive and include many areas of a correctional
system’s operations. Because of the centrality of this issue to DOC’s capacity to enhance public
safety, spend money wisely, and ensure a safe, secure work environment for staff, we outline
three of these models.
122

Edwin Powers, The Basic Structure of the Administration of Criminal Justice in Massachusetts, (Massachusetts
Correctional Association, 1973), p. 230.
123
The Truth-In-Sentencing Law of 1993 eliminated statutory good time, which was the automatic deduction of a
certain number of days per month from a maximum sentence, eliminated the Reformatory sentence, and established
parole eligibility at the minimum state prison sentence.
124
MGL c. 129, sections 129C and 129D.
125
Haverty vs. Commissioner of Correction, 440 Mass. 1 (2003).

40

National Institute of Corrections Reentry Model
In 2001, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), in collaboration with Abt Associates and
more than 35 corrections experts and academics, developed a model for prisoner reentry called
the Transition from Prison to Community Initiative (TPCI).126 The NIC defines the transition
process as including how offenders spend their time during confinement, how they are released
from prison, and how they are supervised during their adjustment to life outside prison. The
TCPI model consists of the following seven elements:
¾
¾
¾
¾
¾
¾
¾

Assessing and classifying inmates;
Developing and implementing the Transition Accountability Plans;
Releasing offenders from confinement;
Providing community supervision and services;
Responding to violations of conditions of release;
Terminating supervision and discharge of jurisdiction; and
Providing post-supervision community support and aftercare.127

To implement this, a Transition Accountability Plan (TAP) is developed for each inmate to
address each phase of the inmates’ transition from prison to the community. It outlines how
offenders will prepare for their release from prison, defines the terms and conditions of their
release, specifies the services and supervision they will receive in the community, and outlines
their discharge when supervision is successfully completed. The plan is administered by a
Transition Management Team, whose members include employees of the prison, parole, service,
and community agencies.
This plan is structured around a target release date, which is established by law, or by
discretionary action of the releasing authority. The target release date creates a strong
expectation that the inmate will be released on that date if he or she adheres to the plan and
maintains good behavior while confined. A premise of the model is that increased certainty
around the release date will motivate inmates and make all parties more accountable for the
timely performance of their responsibilities. The overall goal of the TCPI model is for released
offenders to remain arrest-free, and to become competent and self-sufficient members of their
communities. To achieve that goal, inmates and government actors hold themselves and each
other accountable.
Crime and Justice Institute Reentry Model
The recently released report by the Crime and Justice Institute draws on national research,
including the TAP model, and proposes policies related to reentry, from sentencing to postrelease follow-up.128 The model has the following essential principles:
126

Dale Parent and L. Barnett, Transition from Prison to Community Initiative, (Washington, DC: National Institute
of Corrections, 2003)
127
Ibid, p. 7.
128
Ginger Martin and Cheryl Roberts, From Incarceration to Community: A Roadmap to Improving Prisoner
Reentry and System Accountability in Massachusetts, (Boston, MA: Crime and Justice Institute, 2004)

41

¾ Objective risk assessment to determine the risk that an offender poses to the public.
Higher risk offenders must receive the closest supervision and be a priority for referral for
correctional interventions in prison and in the community.
¾ Legally mandated supervision for all inmates following release from prison, but with
those most likely to re-offend receiving priority.
¾ Correctional interventions that are effective, of high quality, and based on current research
in order to reduce recidivism. Treatment should be available and accessible to higher risk
offenders and should address criminal risk factors.
¾ A release plan for every inmate leaving prison.
¾ Parole officers who combine surveillance and monitoring with interventions to promote
lasting behavior change.
¾ Offenders held accountable for violations of supervision conditions through communitybased sanctions.
¾ Offender risk managed through a community-centered approach with collaboration
between parole, local law enforcement, community service agencies, and others who can
help monitor offenders and assist them with change.
¾ Outcomes measured to ensure that the reforms in the prison reentry process have the
desired effect, specifically in reducing risk and victimization, and increasing safety.
Hampden County Sheriff’s Department Accountability Model
To promote public and institutional safety and efficient inmate management, the Hampden
County Sheriff’s Department maintains a policy of inmate accountability. Instead of simply
serving their sentences, inmates are challenged to use their period of incarceration to engage in
productive activities and make positive changes in their lives by focusing on those attitudes,
behaviors and cognitions that brought them to jail. It is, in effect, the inmate’s job to take up the
tools and directions offered and work toward a successful return to the community. Key
components of this policy include:
¾ A climate in which staff and inmates are treated with respect and dignity.
¾ A system of correctional programming that specifically targets major criminogenic
factors. Participation in programming is required for all sentenced inmates and is
encouraged for pretrial detainees.
¾ Orientation and assessment. Within three days of arrival, each inmate undergoes screening
that identifies major risk factors for re-offending such as substance abuse, lack of
education or skills for employment, criminal associates, mental health issues, nonrewarding parental relationships and criminal thinking.
¾ Five weeks of mandatory, gender-specific programming, including core programs in
Substance Abuse, Anger Management, Learn 2 Earn, Educational Assessment, Victim
Impact and Cognitive Thinking.
¾ Development of Individual Service Plans (ISP) for more specifically targeted programs
based on the results of their Level of Service Inventory (LSI) I screening and appropriate
follow-up and support programs. These programs are offered at all security levels, and
compliance with the ISP is mandatory for all inmates.
42

¾ Incentives linked to satisfactory participation in the treatment plan such as access to the
canteen, visitors, and preferred housing and work assignments.
¾ Classification to the Accountability Pod (for those found out of compliance with the
treatment plan) where they work on regaining the right to a regular housing unit.129
¾ Inmates who meet classification criteria for movement to lower security are challenged to
demonstrate their readiness for step-down through the system.
¾ A “direct supervision model” which provides unique opportunities for inmates and staff to
work together to maintain a positive environment in the living units, resulting in a better
climate for all. Staff are encouraged to serve as positive role models.
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department has reorganized its entire operations to support a
vision of accountability and treatment. Specifically, it has developed the capacity to provide
substantial and coordinated inmate assessments, orientation, individualized treatment plans, and
the required programming. In order to increase the capacity of the agency to offer programs to
all inmates without hiring significantly more staff, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
reviewed all of its programs and eliminated many that were poorly delivered, or had little chance
of changing criminal risk factors. The staff was then redeployed to teach "approved" programs,
all of which have research evidence to support them.
The Department’s ability to effectively transition inmates is limited by state
laws, sentencing practices, and internal DOC policies.
Successful reentry of prisoners back to the community is limited by state sentencing laws and
practices, as well as DOC policies, which directly impact inmate classification, programming
options, pre-release, and supervised release. The DOC will be unable to fully implement a
comprehensive reentry plan until these areas are revised.
Recent publications have discussed in detail the critical impact that sentencing laws and practices
have upon reentry, including Piehl, “From Cell to Street,” Boston Bar Association Task Force on
Parole and Community Reintegration, “Parole Practices in Massachusetts and Their Effect on
Community Reintegration,” the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Innovation Final
Report, and Crime & Justice Institute, “From Incarceration to Community: A Roadmap to
Improving Prisoner Reentry and System Accountability in Massachusetts.” The Commission
concurs with most of these analyses. A brief summary of the laws, practices and policies that
impede successful reentry follows:

129

The Accountability Pod is a specialized living unit (not a disciplinary unit) where accountability is re-focused
through a highly structured daily schedule, limited privileges and mandatory in-pod programming. Upon successful
completion of the Accountability Pod program, inmates return to general population, generally within 30 days. The
department recognizes that in order to comply with the accountability policy inmates must be able to benefit from
targeted programs; therefore, accountability must be balanced with medical and mental health needs. Appropriate
accommodations are made when necessary.

43

Statutory restrictions on pre-release classification
A recent DOC report stated that on December 10, 2003, 84% of the inmate population was
restricted by law from participating in pre-release programming (i.e., work release, education
release and pre-release centers).130 Our reanalysis suggests slightly different numbers, but the
thrust of the findings is the same.131 These statutory restrictions constrain the vast majority of
the DOC population from participating in effective reentry. They include:
¾ Mandatory minimum sentences. These statutes specifically prohibit pre-release for the
entire mandatory portion of the sentence. Mandatory minimum sentences are generally
crimes of violence, firearms offenses, drug offenses, and driving under the influence
offenses. There are 1,441 offenders in the DOC with a mandatory drug offense,
representing 16% of the population.132
¾ Parole eligibility. By law the Commissioner may permit inmates to participate in prerelease programs if they are within 18 months of parole eligibility (43% of DOC inmates
were not within 18 months of parole eligibility in December, 2003).133
¾ Prohibited crimes. A law restricts inmates convicted of certain enumerated offenses,
although within 18 months of parole eligibility, from participation in pre-release programs
except upon recommendation of the superintendent.134
¾ Work release limits. Various laws permit work release during the mandatory term of the
sentence, only in the custody of an officer, upon recommendation of a superintendent.135
Sentencing Practices
According to the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, 47% of offenders given a state prison
sentence in 2002 received a sentence with only a one-day difference between the minimum and
maximum sentence.136 This common sentencing practice by judges effectively precludes both
parole supervision (since the 1993 Truth in Sentencing Act, parole eligibility is set at the
minimum sentence), and placement in pre-release.

130

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Policy and Statutory Restrictions Impact on Inmate Placement,
(Concord, MA: January 2004)
131
5,080 inmates (55.8%) had parole eligibility problems (i.e., more than 18 months and lifers) and 3,193 inmates
(35.1%) had less than 18 months to parole eligibility but had some offense-related statutory constraint.
132
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division January 1, 2003 Inmate Statistics,
(Concord, MA: , 2004), p. 22.
133
MGL c. 127, sec. 49, emphasis supplied.
134
Ibid.
135
See MGL c. 90, sec. 23, 24, 24G and 24L.
136
State of Massachusetts, Survey of Sentencing Practices, FY 2002, (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Sentencing
Commission, May 2003), p. 31.

44

DOC Policy Restrictions on Classification
In addition to these significant restrictions, the Department has five internal policies that restrict
inmate classification and pre-release. As of December 10, 2003, 49% of the inmate population
was restricted by one or more DOC policy.137
¾ Sex offenders are restricted from lower security level facilities until program requirements
specific to sex offenders have been met.138 They are also considered an escape risk
because they face civil commitment.139
¾ The Public Safety Security Program requires that any inmate serving a sentence with
parole eligibility for Murder in the 2nd Degree, Manslaughter, Mayhem, Armed Assault
with Intent to Murder, or a sex offense must have the approval of the Parole Board prior to
being classified to a minimum security level facility.140
¾ Members or suspected members of Security Threat Groups are restricted from minimum
security unless they agree to renounce their membership in the group and the DOC
accepts it. 141
¾ The DOC’s Security Risk Rating system includes placement restrictions for offenders
with certain security ratings.
¾ Those serving 1st Degree Life sentences without the possibility of parole are restricted
from level 2 or below.
According to the DOC, the policies on Public Safety Security Program, Security Threat Groups,
and Security Risk Ratings are currently under review.142
We do not necessarily question the reasonableness or validity of the policies or laws cited here.
However, the total impact of these laws, practices and policies is that very few prisoners are
effectively “stepped-down” through the system, and given increased responsibility and exposure
to the appropriate array of programs and services to target their risks for re-offense.
Post-release supervision strengthens inmate reentry and is especially
necessary for inmates who are at a high risk for re-offense.
Supervised release is smart public safety. Parolees are less likely to re-offend compared with
those released without any supervision. For those inmates released from the Department in
1997, 39% of parolees were convicted of a new offense within three years compared with 53% of
those discharged.143 However, because they are subject to re-incarceration for violation of parole
conditions, parolees were more likely to be re-incarcerated (48% of parolees were re-

137

DOC, Statutory Restrictions, supra, p.5.
103 DOC 446
139
Ibid., p. 4.
140
Ibid. p. 4-5.
141
103 DOC 514
142
Ibid. p. 5.
143
It is worth noting that increased post-release supervision can have a “net-widening” effect. In some cases, returns
to prison actually increase as a result of close supervision and monitoring for higher numbers of former prisoners.
138

45

incarcerated during the three years following release compared to 38% of those discharged).144
In addition, it is cost effective. The cost to supervise one person on parole is approximately
$4,000 per year, or $11 per day.145 The cost for secure confinement in the DOC, however, is
approximately $43,000 per year, or $118 per day.
Unfortunately, many inmates in Massachusetts receive no supervision in the community upon
release from prison. From 1994 to 2002, the trend has been to release fewer and fewer inmates
on parole, as shown in Figure 10. In 1994, 1,337 males were released from the DOC on parole
supervision and 1,623 were released directly to the street, whereas in 2002 only 645 males were
released on parole and 1,240 were released directly to the street.146 The Commission is
particularly troubled by the large numbers of inmates who chose to waive their right to a parole
hearing, thereby ensuring release without parole supervision in the community. In 2000, 36% of
state prisoners waived their right to a parole hearing.147

Figure 10. Type of Release, Males Released from DOC, 1990 to 2002
2,000
1,800
1,600
Discharges to Street
1,400
1,200
1,000
800
Parole to Street

600
400
200
0
1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

The lack of supervision is particularly troubling as we know that inmates are predominately
released directly from high and medium security prisons to the street. Not surprisingly, these

144

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division,, Recidivism of 1997 Released
Department of Correction Inmates, (Concord, MA: 2003), p. 16, 38.
145
League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Administration of Justice, (Boston, MA: 2004)
146
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Releases from DOC Facilities, 1994-2002, (Concord, MA: 2004).
147
Boston Bar Association, Report of the Boston Bar Association Task Force on Parole and Community
Reintegration, (Boston, MA: 2002), p. 15, citing Massachusetts Parole Board, 2000 Statistical Report, 10 Year
Trends, 1990-1999.

46

inmates also have the highest rate of re-offense. In the Department’s most recent recidivism
study, 68% of those released from maximum security and 53% of those released from medium
security prisons were convicted of a new offense within three years of release, as compared with
38% released from minimum security and 37% from state pre-release.148

RECOMMENDATIONS
Successfully transitioning an inmate from a prison back into the community is a complex process
that involves many stakeholders and is influenced by a variety of forces (internal and external).
Generally the best measure of successful transition is a reduction in recidivism. There is no
single issue that, if adequately addressed, will guarantee a successful return to society. Most
prisoners come into the system with a myriad of problems and issues, and the Department should
not be expected to be responsible for addressing all aspects of a prisoner’s transition to society.
Despite this complexity, however, there are actions the Department can take in the short term
and in the long term to improve post-release outcomes and reduce re-offense by returning
inmates. If properly designed and implemented, a true focus on prisoner reentry will bring the
Department in line with its mission and will improve its custody function of providing secure
and orderly facilities.
The Commonwealth must view reducing the rate of re-offending by returning
prisoners as one of its highest public safety priorities.
The responsibility for improving the success of prisoners’ transitions back into the community in
Massachusetts is not solely that of the Department of Correction. Many stakeholders in the state
must view prisoner reentry as a high public safety and fiscal efficiency priority. Statutes,
policies, and other state agencies’ decisions impede the DOC’s ability to reduce the recidivism
rates of released prisoners. The Parole Board is a key partner in this effort, and improved
coordination and communication between the two agencies would go a long way to better the
transition of returning inmates. In addition, because the Commission supports supervised release
for all returning inmates, the role of Parole should be greatly expanded in the prisoner reentry
process. The Commonwealth must demonstrate its commitment to improving public safety by
providing appropriate additional resources to support a comprehensive undertaking in
Massachusetts.
The Department should adopt a comprehensive reentry strategy, including
risk assessment, proven programs, step down, and supervised release.
The Department should fully embrace improving prisoner reentry as a priority by implementing
systemic reforms in the operational practices of the Department, to improve the overall public
safety of the Commonwealth.149 This will be, and requires, a major undertaking.

148

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division, Recidivism of 1997 Released
Department of Correction Inmates, (Concord, MA: 2003), p. 31.

47

In order to fulfill a deep commitment to public safety and improving conditions inside prisons
for inmates and staff, the Department must reform many key operations, including intake
assessment, development of program options, classifications procedures, and staff training and
professional development.
¾ Proven Programs. The Department should review and assess its program offerings in
order to offer a continuum of programming and interventions that are proven to address
criminal risk factors.150 It should be possible for all inmates to complete several programs
or a comprehensive program within their terms. Again, the review of programming
should be coordinated with the reform of classification (which is currently underway).
¾ Volunteer Services. The Department should expand volunteer programs in which
community members come into the facilities for teaching, recreation, or other positive
interactions with inmates.
¾ Assessment. Effective preparation for reentry is not possible if risk is not properly
assessed and targeted. Accurate assessment and classification can also make corrections
more efficient by reducing costly confinement for low risk offenders, and by ensuring that
treatment and programming resources are allocated to offenders who most need them.
Once assessed, the Department should use the information and data gained from inmate
assessments to guide decision-making about individualized reentry plans for each
offender, and about the programs that should be offered to their population.151 Reform of
assessment practices should be undertaken in conjunction the Department’s current review
of its classification process.
¾ Uniform Risk Predictors. All partners in the reentry process, such as Parole, Probation,
and the county Sheriffs, should use a uniform instrument for predicting the probability
that an inmate will re-offend after release from prison. The allocation of resources for
programming, supervision and services should vary directly with the level of risk that an
offender poses. High-cost responses, interventions and services should be allocated to
offenders who pose the greatest risk.
¾ Special Populations. The Department must pay special attention to subpopulations often
overlooked in correctional programming. Women generally have many fewer options
(especially relative to their greater needs) than men do. Even though there are fewer
women in the system, the state must respond to these needs. Also, the growing numbers
of lifers and those with very long sentences requires a re-assessment of their options.
Though it is more difficult to time services toward their release, many will be released one
day. And in the meantime, they are an important resource for influencing institutional
culture.
¾ “Step Down.” To support reentry, the Department should institute a planned step-down of
security level consistent with public safety. At all times, assign inmates to the minimum

149

It is worth noting that only one-third of superintendents cited preparing prisoners for release as one of the goals
of the Department.
150
Based on the Commission’s survey of current Department of Correction superintendents, providing more basic
education programs was the most-frequently mentioned way to better prepare inmates for release.
151
The Department reports that plans are currently underway to use information from inmate risk assessments to
help determine programming.

48

safe classification level to facilitate programming and maximize the opportunity for
inmates to develop responsibility.
¾ Productive Activities. The DOC must decrease inmate idleness and increase the amount of
socially productive activity in the prisons. This action will reduce recidivism, improve
safety within the facilities, and communicate the Commonwealth’s values.152
¾ Community Connections. Preparation for reentry must extend into the community. This
can be accomplished through community “reach in,” the re-development of pre-release
centers, coordination with the Office of Community Corrections and the Board of Parole,
and close collaboration with Sheriff’s Departments and local police departments.
¾ Performance Measures. The models for improving prisoner reentry are all built on the
concept of continuous improvement and on holding agencies and inmates accountable.
Therefore, the Department should develop performance measures, data collection
protocols, and a system of review in order to monitor performance over time.
Together, these recommendations require a reordering of priorities of the Department. Some of
these initiatives will require additional funding, either from an increased legislative authorization
or from a reallocation from existing sources. This is a challenging reform agenda to truly
integrate reentry into Department practices. It will require political support in order to succeed,
as it requires system-wide reform both within and outside the Department of Correction. We
recommend that the Governor, the Legislature, the Board of Parole, and the Department of
Probation promote the Department’s reform efforts, with an eagerness to coordinate policies and
practices to benefit public safety.
The Department should hold prisoners more accountable for participation in
productive activities designed to reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend.
The Commission believes that prisoners should be held responsible and accountable for making
efforts to reduce the likelihood that they will return to a life of crime after their release from
prison. The Department can promote this objective through a system of incentives and sanctions.
The Commission recommends that the Department adopt a model similar to that implemented in
Hampden County, which utilizes “carrots and sticks” to encourage prisoners to participate in
activities that may improve their reentry to society. In addition, the Department should review
and improve the earned good time policy, and the availability of programs that are eligible for
good time credit. Finally, the Commission recommends that program participation levels and
similar measures that gauge inmate activity be included in the Department’s performance
management and accountability system described in Section II, Leadership and Accountability.

152

Most of the correction officers responding to the staff survey responded that they did not think there were enough
work opportunities for prisoners and that prisoners should be required to work. There was a mix of opinions on
whether there were enough programs for prisoners, such as education and training, and whether prisoners should be
required to participate.

49

The Commonwealth and the Department should revise sentencing laws and
DOC policies that create barriers to appropriate classification, programming,
and step down.
As set forth in detail in our findings, the successful reentry of prisoners back into the community
is limited by Massachusetts’ sentencing laws and practices, and by Department regulations
regarding classification of particular offenders. Reduction of recidivism requires both inmate
participation in proven programs, and post-release supervision. A truly comprehensive
corrections reform plan must, in the interest of public safety and fiscal efficiency, also
encompass sentencing reform, to eliminate those practices and policies which serve as an
obstacle to “step-down,” programming and supervision.
Nationally, other states have recognized that sentencing reforms are necessary for both public
safety and fiscal reasons. Louisiana has repealed mandatory minimum sentences for simple drug
possession and other nonviolent offenses, and cut minimum sentences for drug trafficking in
half. Texas has introduced significant parole reforms in an effort to trim their prison population,
and Missouri has passed legislation reducing many mandatory minimum sentences, advancing
parole eligibility dates for nonviolent second offenders, and creating a special program for
nonviolent first offenders that requires a brief period of incarceration followed by supervised
release, drug treatment and job training. In addition, sentencing reform efforts are being
seriously considered in states such as New York, California, and Maryland.
As previously noted, minimum-mandatory sentences constrain reentry preparation as they
essentially preclude participation in pre-release programs and parole supervision. Moreover,
inmates serving minimum-mandatory sentences often have little incentive to participate in
education, substance abuse, or violence prevention programming within the prison environment,
because they are precluded by law from receiving earned good time credit for program
participation.153 Quite simply, based on what we now know about reducing re-offense, this is a
recipe for recidivism rather than a recipe for effective risk reduction.
Moreover, there are compelling fiscal reasons to examine sentencing laws. It presently costs the
citizens of Massachusetts $48,000 per year to house a maximum security inmate. In times of
fiscal austerity and intense and competing demands on public dollars, we must make sure that
these dollars are truly being spent on those offenders who pose the greatest public safety risks.
Mandatory minimum sentences remove the ability to make that individualized risk assessment.
The Commission strongly supports the recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on
Criminal Justice Innovation, chaired by Lt. Governor Kerry Healy, for sentencing reforms to
enhance offender reentry.154 We do not take a position on which particular sentencing reform
153

See, e.g., MGL c. 269, §10(m)(carrying designated firearm); MGL c. 265, 18B (use of firearm in commission of
felony, second offense); MGL c. 272, § 4B (living on the earnings of a minor prostitute).
154
The Lieutenant Governor’s Crime Commission recommended sentencing guideline legislation that would: 1)
require appropriate mandatory supervision of all offenders being released from incarceration, including additional
funding to support agencies responsible for post-release supervision, like the Parole Board and the Probation
Department; 2) prohibit sentences where the range between the minimum and maximum terms is very short; 3)
ensure punishment for drug trafficking crimes within a sentencing grid that allows eligible offenders to participate in

50

package should be enacted, but a number of pending proposals would eliminate or reduce some
of the counterproductive effects noted above. For example, the Massachusetts Sentencing
Commission requires that the minimum term of incarceration imposed by the judge at sentencing
for drug offenses must be 2/3 of the maximum term imposed; this would allow for more effective
classification and enable the parole board to hold hearings on more prisoners. The Sentencing
Commission proposal would also allow judges – in drug cases only -- to deviate from minimummandatory sentences in appropriate circumstances, based on the presence of mitigating factors
reduced to writing, subject to the Commonwealth’s right to appeal the sentence. Each is worthy
of serious consideration by the legislature. Other proposals -- short of a comprehensive
sentencing guideline system -- would also allow the Department to shift its focus to reentry
planning. For example: eliminating minimum-mandatory sentences for certain non-violent
narcotics offenses, and allowing inmates with offenses carrying minimum-mandatory sentences
to earn good time credit.
Moreover, the DOC itself should remove select policy and regulatory barriers to program
participation and effective reentry. Several Department regulations seem to impose overly broad
and unreasonable restrictions on classification step-down and pre-release, and these regulations
should be reviewed and modified following an assessment of the kind of inmate activity, and
restrictions based on criminal offense, that are most needed to protect public safety.
The Commonwealth should establish a presumption that DOC inmates who
are released are subject to ongoing monitoring and supervision.
Supervised release of DOC inmates, particularly those at high risk for re-offense after serving
their sentence, makes sense from both public safety and fiscal standpoints. The Commonwealth
should adopt a system of presumptive parole. With an appropriate classification system in place,
which utilizes a well-calibrated risk assessment instrument, and with targeted, evidence-based
programming offered at each facility, the presumption should be that all offenders are released
with ongoing monitoring and supervision. For low risk offenders, this supervision may be less
intense and lengthy, in order to ensure that resources are appropriately focused on those who are
most at risk of re-offense.
The Legislature should also consider mandating post-release supervision for those inmates who
are not released under parole supervision, either because they are sentenced to narrow “spreads”
and wrap by the time they are eligible, because they waive parole eligibility, or because they are
denied by the Parole Board following a hearing. In any of these three scenarios, public safety
would be better protected if inmates were released from prison under the supervision of a parole
officer for a designated period of time after their release (e.g. two years). Inmates who have
proven themselves ineligible for parole (for example, by refusing to participate in available
programming, or by disciplinary infractions while in prison) are at a high risk of re-offending.

pre-release programs, and requires mandatory post-release supervision; 4) integrate intermediate sanctions within
the comprehensive sentencing framework, providing guidance to judges on the use of such tools; and 5) make
sentencing more predictable and provide the Commonwealth with an effective tool to manage the utilization of
scarce correctional resources. Governor’s Report on Criminal Justice Innovation, p. 28 (Spring, 2004).

51

Public safety concerns alone require that they be supervised closely upon their release, with a
range of graduated administrative and court-based sanctions for violating terms of supervision.
It is important to consider post-release supervision in the context of overall sentencing reform.
Otherwise this promising public safety measure would have significant “net widening” and fiscal
implications.
There should be a dedicated external review of inmate health and mental
health services.
The Commission believes that the health and mental health needs and services provided to DOC
inmates are critically important issues. Particularly in the area of inmate mental health, we know
that there is a disproportionately high share of mental illness amongst the state prison population,
and that this number rises significantly again when one separates out the female offender
population. Moreover, inmate health services comprise 15% of the Department’s total budget, so
it is also a significant cost to the Commonwealth.
Many inmates lack good primary care, abuse drugs and/or alcohol and participate in high risk
behaviors prior to incarceration. Once an inmate is incarcerated, medical and psychological
illnesses that might not have been acknowledged -- never mind diagnosed or treated -- rise to the
surface and require attention. In examining this issue we heard and reviewed testimony from
inmates, inmate families, advocates and others alleging significant barriers to access and
treatment and delayed responses to inmate health concerns. Due to the oral testimony and
additional written correspondence, the Commission requested specific documentation and
devoted a session to hearing from those who service the inmate population, University of
Massachusetts Medical School Correctional Health Services and the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital.
UMass Medical School contracted with the Department to provide medial services to the inmate
population as of January 1, 2003. The Commission was favorably impressed with the
information they provided, and found that it contrasted with that provided by the inmates, inmate
families and prisoner advocates in terms of physical and mental health services.
The breadth and scope of the Commission's work did not allow us to devote sufficient time and
attention to the correctional health care delivery system. However, given the critical importance
of this service, we recommend that further attention be specifically devoted to study the
correctional health services delivery system.
There should be a dedicated external review of issues pertaining to female
offenders in the Department’s custody.
The Commission recognizes the need for a comprehensive review of the unique needs of female
offenders. As of January 1, 2003, females represented 6% of those with criminal sentences in
DOC custody.155 Yet, the Framingham Facility for Women (MCI Framingham) is the most
155

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division,, January 1, 2003 Inmate Statistics,
(Concord, MA: 2004), p. 28.

52

overcrowded facility in the Commonwealth, at 127% of capacity.156 It is also the oldest active
facility in the country, built in 1877. Because 7 of the 13 county houses of correction do not
have facilities for women, a large proportion of the population at Framingham are either pretrial
detainees or are serving House of Correction sentences. The Awaiting Trial Unit at MCI
Framingham is currently at 295% of capacity.157
Female offenders and their crimes are different from their male counterparts. Women commit
fewer violent crimes (32% vs. 49%) and more drug offenses (35% vs. 20%) than males.158 They
have gender-specific issues that significantly affect their potential for successful reentry that
cannot be adequately addressed in a co-ed environment. Primary among these issues are
responsibilities for children; 80% of female offenders are mothers with an average of 3
children159, and most were primary caretakers before incarceration. Concern for their children,
many of whom are in foster care or with relatives, often impedes women’s ability to deal with
the other serious issues that many of them face such as addiction, mental illness, chronic medical
problems and a significant history of physical and sexual abuse.
Framingham is the only DOC facility for females in the Commonwealth, meaning that many of
the women incarcerated there are far from their families, and the community to which they will
return upon release. A 1990 class action lawsuit demanded that women be provided the means
to serve their time closer to home in a setting equal to their male counterparts.160 In response to
that suit, plans were made for a freestanding facility for women on the grounds of the Hampden
County House of Correction. Those plans were abandoned due to environmental restrictions in
1992.161
The Commission urges a dedicated review to the unique issues pertaining to female offenders in
the Department’s custody. Among the issues the Commission wishes to see examined is the
need for a stand-alone facility for women in western Massachusetts, to help to ease
overcrowding in Framingham and provide female offenders from the western counties with
better access to local post release programs and community services for housing, education,
employment, counseling and treatment.

156

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Quarterly Report on the Status of Prison Overcrowding, First Quarter
of 2004, (Boston, MA: , April 2004)
157
Ibid.
158
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division,, January 1, 2002 Inmate Statistics,
(Concord, MA: , 2002)
159
Data on Female Offenders at Hampden County HOC submitted to Mental Health Committee of Mass Legislature
by Kate DeCou, Assistant Superintendent of HCHOC Women’s Unit, 1/14/04.
160
Western Massachusetts Female Inmates-Court Order-Warrick v. George Vose, Commissioner of Correction and
Sheriff of Hampden County, et al, Hampshire Superior Court, C.A. No. 89-431 (1990).
161
Hampden County currently houses its female population (which includes women from other counties) within the
male facility where females are outnumbered 11 to 1, severely limiting their access to programs and services.

53

V. FAIR AND CONSISTENT POLICIES AND PRACTICES

T

he Administrative Investigation into the death of John Geoghan while he was in the custody
of the DOC raised major issues about, and identified significant problems with, DOC
policies and practices in investigations, discipline, classification, staffing, and protective
custody.162 Following our review, we believe that these deficiencies were not isolated
incidents.163 Although many of the Department’s policies and procedures have much to
recommend them, some areas are problematic and need re-evaluation.164
More administrative oversight and accountability are essential to ensure that the existing policies
and procedures are properly and consistently implemented. If this is done, inmates and staff will
have clear expectations and guidelines that ensure consistency, predictability and uniformity.
They will understand that these systems reinforce, not undermine, the values, goals and mission
of the agency. If inmates and staff feel that they are being treated fairly, the culture of the
institutions will be more professional, working conditions for line staff and living conditions for
inmates will improve, and safety and security will be enhanced.
While the Commission lacks the capacity to comment on all aspects of the standard operations of
the Department, we have focused on critical issues that were identified in the Geoghan
investigation and/or that surfaced in our own work. These issues necessarily intersect with, and
integrally relate to, the issues of leadership, governance, accountability and reentry. In fact, full
implementation of all of the recommendations would increase accountability throughout the
Department in these areas, and require that systemic operational reforms support the DOC’s
increased expectations of inmates.

FINDINGS
Many of the Department’s current policies, procedures and practices are not
fair and consistent, including those related to inmate classification, discipline
and grievances.
The culture of the Department and its facilities will be improved by operational systems that are
transparent and that result in fair and predictable outcomes. The Administrative Investigation,
162

Major Mark F. Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly, and George Camp, Ph. D., Administrative Investigation; The Facts
and Circumstances Surrounding the Events Which Led to Inmate Geoghan’s Death on August 23, 2003, (Released
on February 3, 2004).
163
In its work, the Commission was only able to obtain a snapshot of the recent and current state of affairs in the
Department. We have not investigated all of the Department’s facilities to determine whether the problems we have
documented are systemic. It was not feasible or within our scope to do so in the time allotted. In any event, even an
absence of current incidents at other institutions would not obviate the need for overhaul of these systems in light of
the clear potential for future harm as they are presently structured and implemented.
164
The Department of Correction’s Strategic Planning Guide indicates that many of these problem areas have been
identified by the Department’s management and improvements are planned or underway. Massachusetts
Department of Correction, Strategic Planning Guide, (Concord, MA: 2004).

54

the Commission’s review of current DOC policies and practices, and the Department’s Strategic
Plan reveal some flawed policies and others that are sound but poorly implemented. For
example, the Department’s classification policy may be well designed, but in practice it has
never been consistently followed. The Commission found that failure to accurately use the
classification tool has resulted in a subjective system in which many inmates are classified to a
higher security level than is necessary. The resulting lack of predictability and consistent
outcomes in these systems adversely affects the day-to-day working conditions for the staff and
living conditions for the inmates.
Classification
The Department’s recent Strategic Planning Guide has the following detailed assessment of the
problems in the current classification system:
The Department of Correction’s classification system, despite the use of an
objective, point-based scoring system to guide decision-making, remains heavily
reliant on the subjective decision-making of individual correctional staff. As a
result of statutory and self-imposed restrictions on the placement of certain
offenders in community correctional facilities, the rate of override of the pointbased classification score is currently more frequent than best correctional
practice would dictate. As a result, the [current system] lacks credibility. This
lack of credibility …, in conjunction with the absence of any other clearly
delineated criteria in the Department’s classification policy upon which to rely
for decision-making, leaves the decision-making process unduly influenced by
individual staff’s perceptions, interpretations, and prejudices. Many of the staff
who participate in the classification decision-making process are not sufficiently
trained in that process, increasing the vulnerability of the process to the influence
of the prevailing informal culture. That influence is evident not only in
classification decision-making but also in the manner in which staff carry out the
hearing, review and appeal processes. Hearings are rushed, inmate participation
in the process is minimal, review of recommendations are delegated to the lowest
possible level, and the appeal process is muddled, cumbersome and without
credibility. Finally, there is no systematic collection and evaluation of data
relative to the classification system that would facilitate periodic assessment of
the decision-making process and its effectiveness at meeting stated objectives.165
Testimony to the Commission, observations of classification hearings, interviews with staff, and
inmate focus groups indicate that the Department’s assessment of the current system is correct.
The Commission is concerned about the current classification system and its impact on inmate
accountability, the costs of incarceration, and public safety. We applaud the Department’s
decision to engage an outside expert to evaluate the current system.166
165

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Strategic Planning Guide, (Concord, MA: 2004). ,
James Austin, Ph. D., is currently reviewing the Department’s classification system in conjunction with the
National Institute of Corrections.

166

55

The Commission differs somewhat with the Department on whether these flawed processes yield
an inmate population that is “overclassified,” meaning that many inmates are classified to a
higher security level than necessary. The Department reasonably states that without “systematic
evaluation of key data, it is difficult to determine whether or not … the Department
overclassifies the inmate population.”167 While we agree that more evidence would help us
understand the problem more fully, the weight of the available evidence is that inmates are
overclassified in Massachusetts and that this overclassification costs the citizens of the
Commonwealth in financial and public safety terms.
¾ Over the past 10 years, maximum security confinement in DOC facilities has increased
and minimum security confinement has decreased.168 The percentage of the inmate
population maintained in minimum security has decreased by more than half, while the
percentage of inmates in maximum security has more than doubled.169
¾ The percentage of inmates released from maximum security prisons is higher in
Massachusetts than in other states.170
¾ As noted in the chapter on inmate reentry, approximately 25% of those released from
Massachusetts prisons are at minimum security, much lower than the rate in other states.
Overclassification places inmates in facilities that are not appropriate to their risk level for
purposes of public safety, and it prevents inmates from preparing for successful reentry to the
community. Overclassification also wastes the opportunity to advance public safety by stepping
prisoners down into more rehabilitative, less restrictive settings, where they may develop
individual responsibility. Research suggests that overclassification leads to higher recidivism and
wastes money.
Notwithstanding evidence of overclassification, the Department’s recent policy movements have
been in the opposite direction. On June 30, 2002, the DOC closed SECC Medium, Hodder House
at MCI-Framingham, MCI-Lancaster, the Massachusetts Boot Camp, and the Addiction Center
at SECC. This amounted to a loss of 632 beds in lower security settings.171 Today there are only
five minimum security facilities in operation.172

167

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Strategic Planning Guide, (Concord, MA: 2004),
See Figure 3, Population By Security Level.
169
Between 1994 and 2004, the share of inmates in minimum-security prison declined from 23% to 11%. The share
in medium increased from 68% to 70% and in maximum from 9% to 19%. Massachusetts Department of
Correction, Quarterly Report on the Status of Prison Overcrowding series, (Boston, MA: multiple years).
170
For example, the percentage of inmates released from maximum-security facilities is 3% in North Carolina
(North Carolina DOC), 4% in Georgia (Georgia DOC), 4.4% in Oregon (Oregon DOC), 5.8% in Texas (Texas
Department of Criminal Justice), compared to 12% in Massachusetts.
171
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Quarterly Report on the Status of Prison Overcrowding, (Boston, MA:
multiple years).
172
They are MCI-Plymouth, Northeastern Correctional Center, South Middlesex Correctional Center, Pondville
Correctional Center, and Boston Pre-Release.
168

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Discipline
The lack of fair and consistent policies for issuing disciplinary reports to inmates or applying
sanctions based on those disciplinary reports was highlighted by the Administrative Investigation
as a factor contributing to erroneous decisions regarding important aspects of institutional life
such as inmate classification and transfers.173 The lack of transparent and equitably implemented
disciplinary policies and procedures contributes to institutional stress and negative behavior by
both inmates and staff.
Perhaps the most succinct description of the issue comes from the Department’s Strategic
Planning Guide:
The current inmate disciplinary system is flawed. Correctional staff has
the ability to manipulate the system in a variety of ways. In some cases
staff writing disciplinary reports to affect an inmate’s transfer to
another facility, staff retaliating against an inmate by piling on charges
or writing nuisance reports that hinder an inmate’s movement is the
reality of the current system.174
In testimony and interviews, the Commission found that, due to inconsistent application of
disciplinary rules, not all inmates understand what is required of them. Literacy or language
problems may also prevent an inmate from understanding the rules. Inmates cannot be held
accountable if rules are not transparent, well understood, and fairly and predictably applied.
It also appears that there are no procedures to ensure that officers who issue disciplinary reports
are informed of the outcome of the reports. As noted in the Administrative Investigation,
feedback is necessary so that individual officers learn from experience and, as a result, the
disciplinary process becomes more consistent.175 The absence of this feedback is a lost
opportunity for management oversight, and training and education of the officers.176
Discipline is closely linked to other operational aspects of running a prison. An inmate’s
classification score is based in part on his or her conduct during incarceration as indicated by the
number of disciplinary convictions received. Inmates convicted of disciplinary infractions may
be reclassified and transferred to a higher security facility. An overly aggressive disciplinary
system, then, contributes to overclassification of inmates. Unfair or inconsistently applied
disciplinary standards also deprive prison administrators of accurate information regarding what
is happening in the facilities, thereby invalidating any disciplinary statistics from use in
performance management. Effective disciplinary standards also protect and validate the staff. If
closely followed, they are central to professional perception and performance.
173

Major Mark F. Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly, and George Camp, Administrative Investigation; The Facts and
Circumstances Surrounding the Events Which Led to Inmate Geoghan’s Death on August 23, 2003, (Released on
February 3, 2004), p. 72.
174
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Strategic Planning Guide, (Concord, MA: 2004).
175
Major Mark F. Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly, and George Camp, Administrative Investigation; The Facts and
Circumstances Surrounding the Events Which Led to Inmate Geoghan’s Death on August 23, 2003, (Released on
February 3, 2004), p. 101.
176
Ibid.

57

Grievances
The policies and procedures on inmate grievances regarding conditions of confinement, staff
misconduct, or other issues, must be upgraded and revised to ensure that they appear to be and,
in fact, are responsive and fair. As noted in the Department’s Strategic Plan, grievances are
frequently denied on procedural issues rather than substance, even when they involve allegations
of abuse by staff.177 Decisions to deny are often made without assessment of underlying causes,
systemic problems, or policy inefficiencies. Additionally, the grievance process contains serious
conflicts of interest. Grievance coordinators regularly investigate complaints against their peers,
superiors and themselves. The appeals process is flawed in that the same grievance coordinator
investigates the appeals of his or her decisions. More importantly, grievance decisions are not
reviewed or audited unless they are appealed and denied by the Superintendent. Finally,
grievance coordinators have little or no training in due process, mediation, or conflict resolution
– all highly relevant to this critical staff-inmate interface – as well as little training in
investigative techniques. This lack of training further exacerbates the situation created by having
vague, ambiguous and discretionary policies and procedures.
Inmate grievances can serve as a valuable source of information to assess the climate of an
institution and to identify issues of concern to inmates. They also serve as an important “safety
valve” for inmates and staff. Complaints about staff, visits, food, property, mail, and a handful
of other issues constitute the majority of grievances, and if analyzed critically, can help
administrators discern both localized and larger systemic problems. In the case of John
Geoghan, while each of his multiple grievances received a response, the Department did not
examine them in their totality to identify specific problems regarding his custodial care and this
information did not travel beyond MCI Concord to the Department’s upper management.
The DOC may be concerned that by formalizing the grievance procedure it may become too easy
for inmates to lodge untruthful complaints. However, increased use of management information
systems would allow prison administrators greater opportunity to cull the nuisance grievances
from those that have merit, and to share this information throughout the correctional system.
These systems can track grievances filed by a particular inmate over a period of time and also
cross check similar grievances filed by other inmates, even in other facilities. Such analytical
capacity not only leads to more responsive and accurate handling of grievances but also leads to
improvements in the overall accountability of the institution and correctional system. In
addition, the fact that the majority of the complaints may be deemed “minor” when evaluated
objectively, is the best defense for officers and is equally important to labor and management.
Current policies and practices do not adequately ensure the safety of inmates
in protective custody.
The DOC is not taking sufficient precautions to protect inmates in protective custody178 from
each other. Due in part to the problems associated with the current classification system, inmates
177

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Strategic Planning Guide, (Concord, MA: 2004).
Protective custody is a form of separation from the general population for inmates requesting or requiring
protection from other inmates for reasons of health or safety. 103 CMR 423.
178

58

who should be classified to different security levels are housed together in protective custody.
For example, Mr. Geoghan who was in protective custody was re-classified from a Level 4 to a
Level 6 inmate just before his transfer to Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, despite the
Classification Board’s recommendation that he remain a Level 4 inmate.179
Both the Administrative Investigation and the Department’s Strategic Plan make detailed
recommendations to improve the protection of inmates under the jurisdiction of the state. These
findings and recommendations are supported by the Commission’s research and tours of the
facilities. The Department must decide how to locate and design units and their supporting
systems (such as recreation and visiting schedules) to ensure that all inmates are adequately
protected and also have access to the necessary facilities and programs. In addition to
improvements to the units themselves, protective custody units require oversight. The housing
units must be monitored, and the status of inmates housed in the protective custody units must be
reviewed frequently by the appropriate staff.
The Department’s current systems for oversight and accountability are
deficient, including those related to investigations and data integration.
Investigations
The Panel Report and our discussions with the authors revealed major deficiencies in the
“sporadic and cavalier” investigative process at MCI-Concord and at the Souza-Baranowski
Correctional Center. The shortcomings include some elements that are present throughout the
system: “lack of central control and supervisory oversight;” lack of follow-up on investigative
leads due to inadequate training and experience of investigators; investigators’ loyalty to fellow
officers working in the same location and bargaining unit creating difficulties in objectivity;
investigators’ real or perceived fear of ostracism and retaliation; lack of understanding by
supervisory staff; and other factors.180
The Commissioner’s Strategic Plan identifies essentially the same deficiencies in investigative
practices department-wide. For example, the section on the “Inmate Grievance System” has an
extensive statement of the problem, acknowledging that “…[i]nvestigation practices and
documentation [are] poor and Institution Grievance Coordinators have little or no training in
proper investigative techniques.”181
Our review indicates that the present investigative system failed to identify and resolve serious
problems at some institutions. It is virtually certain to fail again absent structural reforms.
179

Major Mark F. Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly, and George Camp, Administrative Investigation; The Facts and
Circumstances Surrounding the Events Which Led to Inmate Geoghan’s Death on August 23,2003, (Released on
February 3, 2004), p. 91.
180
Major Mark F. Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly, and George Camp, Administrative Investigation; The Facts and
Circumstances Surrounding the Events Which Led to Inmate Geoghan’s Death on August 23,2003, (Released on
February 3, 2004). Further in-depth review would help determine whether the same deficiencies in investigative
policies and practices exist in every institution. Such an inquiry would be warranted if the present system stays in
place.
181
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Strategic Planning Guide (Concord, MA: 2004).

59

Rather than devote further time to a full review of failures of the present system, the DOC needs
to take action now. This Commission finds that there is an urgent need to correct these problems
system wide.
Outside review, as part of an overall reform and upgrading of the internal investigative process,
is one way to avoid some of the major flaws in the present system, including the natural tendency
of employees to protect their associates, their union colleagues, the performance of subordinates
for whom they are responsible, and/or their reputation as a supervisor, superintendent or
commissioner. Even at the highest levels of the Department, one can expect that future
commissioners may be reluctant to examine the Department critically for fear of losing authority
if investigations uncover deficiencies that need broader attention. (We have seen this in many
other law enforcement agencies and in recent leadership scandals in the private and non-profit
sectors.)
In this context, outside investigations operate both as a safeguard against biased or incomplete
DOC investigations and as an incentive to improve the quality, thoroughness and objectivity of
the Department’s internal investigations. The Department’s investigators may perform more
professionally and confidently knowing that their investigations may be reviewed by an outside
authority that will expose any flaws, incompetence, or incompleteness in the investigation, or
will serve to validate their competence if done well.
The Inmate Management System
In order to run institutions with high expectations for management, staff, and inmates, the
Department must have well-functioning data systems. The Inmate Management System (IMS),
which was piloted by the Department in 2000, is in operation at many of its facilities. The system
is “…a comprehensive, integrated database of offender information designed to…enhance
operational efficiency.”182 The IMS’ integrated database contains information regarding inmates
from their admission to their release and is scheduled to be activated in all DOC facilities by Fall
of 2004.
The IMS has great potential, but as yet it has not led to sufficient sharing of information within
the Department. As is generally true when a new system is introduced, data collection precedes
efforts to ensure full utilization of the data.183 The Administrative Investigation found that not
all staff had access to IMS, that those who had access to the system sometimes failed to retrieve
relevant information, and that information that was retrieved was not always shared.184 The
182

Massachusetts Department of Correction, 2002-2003 Annual Report, (Concord, MA: 2004).
For example, the Administrative Investigation found that the Deputy Superintendent at MCI Concord did not
know that Mr. Geoghan had been transferred to Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center until one month after the
transfer occurred. Similarly, the Commissioner’s designee who decided to transfer Mr. Geoghan to SouzaBaranowski Correctional Center, and other Central Office staff were unaware of most, if not all, of the significant
events that occurred at MCI Concord involving Mr. Geoghan even though some of the information was in the IMS
system. Major Mark F. Delaney, Chief Mark Reilly, and George Camp, Administrative Investigation; The Facts and
Circumstances Surrounding the Events Which Led to Inmate Geoghan’s Death on August 23,2003, (Released on
February 3, 2004) pp.. 72-73.
184
Ibid., p. 73.
183

60

system has also not been sufficiently used to track disciplinary reports as a source of
accountability and training for staff.
Effective communication with inmates is inhibited by a limited bilingual work
force. This may impact institutional security.
The Department lacks adequate levels of Hispanic staff and Spanish-speaking staff. The current
DOC work force of 5,070 provides services to an inmate population of 10,026 (roughly one staff
person for every two inmates).185 Of the 5,070 employees, 596 or 12% are racial / ethnic
minorities and 923 or 18% are females.
The Department reports that 161 of the 5,070
employees are Hispanic, representing 3% of the work force.186 In comparison, 27% of the
inmate population is Hispanic.187 Self-reports by DOC inmates indicate that 1,616 or 18% of the
inmate population do not speak English as their primary language and that 1,394 or 15% of the
population have Spanish as their primary language.188 By comparison, only 3% of the workforce
report an ability to speak Spanish, which is substantially less than the inmate population.
Moreover, according to a Department survey of the linguistic diversity of current Department
employees, only 329 employees are able to speak at least one other language (some employees
knew as many as four languages in addition to English).189 This represents approximately 7% of
the entire work force, also substantially less than the inmate population.
The language disparities impede fair and predictable operations. In practice, it means that
effective communication between correction officers and inmates – crucial to operating safe,
humane and orderly prisons – is inhibited. Moreover, inmates disclosed to the Commission that
they are routinely called upon to translate for fellow inmates, despite the fact that the staff has
the ability to access interpreter services by phone. This practice can place inmates in an
uncomfortable, potentially unsafe, position with both staff and fellow inmates and, more
importantly, does not guarantee accuracy.190

185

Massachusetts Department of Correction, Work Force Analysis, March 31, 2004 included in memorandum to
GCCR dated May 6, 2004 and Massachusetts Department of Correction, Quarterly Report on the Status of Prison
Overcrowding, First Quarter of 2004, (Boston, MA: April 2004), p. 7.
186
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Work Force Analysis, March 31, 2004 included in memorandum to
GCCR dated May 6, 2004.
187
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Research and Planning Division,, January 1, 2003 Inmate Statistics,
(Concord, MA: 2004).
188
Ibid., page 16.
189
Massachusetts Department of Correction, Linguist [sic] diversity of the Department of Correction by Facilities
and Divisions, included in memorandum to GCCR dated May 6, 2004.
190
Inmate focus groups conducted May 12 and 13, 2004.

61

RECOMMENDATIONS
The Department should ensure that policies and procedures, including those
related to inmate classification, discipline, and grievances, are transparent,
well-communicated, have specified appeals processes, and are implemented
by staff who are appropriately selected, trained and supervised.
In order to be credible, policies and procedures must make some sense to those who are expected
to follow them. But more importantly, the staff implementing them must be seen to adhere to
policy without showing favoritism. Because perceptions formed from every day activities may
affect the credibility of the entire institution, the Department must strengthen the integrity of its
systems such as classification, discipline and grievances, and respond swiftly and fairly to
allegations of inmate or employee misconduct.
How matters within these systems are ultimately resolved should be communicated back to
employees. For example, officers who issue disciplinary reports should be told when they are
dismissed, and Classification Boards should be told when they are overruled. This
communication is a necessary predicate for education, accountability and transparency.
Classification
In order to house inmates at the lowest appropriate security level consistent with public safety,
the Department must have a research-based, objective classification system with appropriate
procedures and trained staff to implement it. Objective classification systems should rely on
factors that have been proven to predict prison adjustment. According to the standards of the
American Correctional Association, a classification plan should specify objectives and methods
of achieving them and require monitoring and evaluation to determine whether the objectives are
being met.191 The Department should move forward with its classification review with haste.
In addition, several steps should be taken in order to promote fairness, transparency, and
credibility in the classification process. These would include:
¾ The classification process must be explained to inmates clearly and in terms and language
they can understand.
¾ Inmates must participate in assessing their own needs and selecting programs.
¾ Classification Board members should have all relevant information, and at least one
member should have personal knowledge of the inmate.
¾ All Classification Board members should be trained in the classification process. In
particular, the staff must be well trained in the objective use of the classification
instrument, or it will fail to perform as designed.
¾ National “best practices” suggest that the percentage of cases in which the classification
score is overridden should not exceed 15 percent. The use of overrides should be reserved
for exceptional cases, and a detailed explanation of the override should be required. Some
191

American Correctional Association, “Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions,” Section 4-4295.

62

discretionary overrides are necessary, but they should be limited and should reflect the
considered judgment of professionals trained in classification.
¾ Classification decisions, and the factors used to make each decision, should be recorded
and available for analysis. Supervisory staff should consistently review individual
classification decisions on an ongoing basis to ensure that the classification tool is being
used properly.
¾ In order to ensure that the system stays relevant to the DOC population, the Classification
system should undergo a full process revalidation every two to three years.192
Discipline
The Department must provide specific training and guidelines for all security and program staff
regarding how disciplinary reports are to be issued. This will help to ensure that all personnel
who work with inmates are thoroughly familiar with the rules of inmate conduct, the rationale for
the rules, and the sanctions available. Initial training should be followed by continuous inservice training to prevent discrepancies among staff members in interpretation or
implementation of the rules. In addition, the Department should establish a form for all inmates
to sign indicating that they have received and reviewed the rules governing inmate conduct.
Grievances
The Commission commends Commissioner Dennehy for her candid assessment of the flaws in
the current grievance policy, and for her stated intentions and implementation plans for a new
inmate grievance procedure. The Commission recommends that the revised policy convey the
Department’s understanding that grievance procedures allow management to identify and resolve
operational problems and contribute to the emotional stability of the inmates.
The Department should ensure that policies and procedures are properly
implemented through oversight and accountability systems, including an
independent investigative authority, data management, and unit
management.
The Commission heard repeatedly about the gap that exists between the Department’s policies,
even well crafted policies, and their implementation. These recommendations are intended to
minimize that gap by improving implementation through oversight and increased accountability.
Independent Investigative Authority
We recommend a system that includes investigations by an entity outside and fully independent
of the Department, but that also preserves the Department’s ability and responsibility to
investigate complaints and incidents in the first instance.

192

Patricia L. Hardeman, James Austin and Owan C. Tulloch, Revalidating External Prison Classification Systems,
(Washington DC: National Institute of Corrections, 2002).

63

There are a number of ways to achieve these goals, without unduly undermining the
Department’s authority, responsibility and accountability. There are a variety of models that
could be utilized or adapted. For example, an independent inspector general, ombudsman or
similar office with qualified investigatory staff (“Inspector General”193) could perform the
function, either reporting directly to the Secretary of Public Safety or to a Department head
within the Executive Office of Public Safety (such as the Department of the State Police).
Even with an Inspector General in place, all complaints and investigations should be channeled
through the department’s investigatory staff. This would help process the large number of
complaints or grievances generated in the correctional system without imposing the full burden
upon the Inspector General’s office. It would also provide a needed opportunity for institutional
staff and management to address complaints appropriately and immediately. Finally, an initial
investigation should provide some groundwork, helping the Inspector General to determine
which investigations need more thorough review or an expedited review.
The Commissioner should notify the Inspector General of all complaints and investigations
regularly and routinely, and at least on a monthly basis. With or without that notification, the
Inspector General should have the authority to take over any investigation at any point or the
Inspector General should be able to choose to review the final decision after the Department’s
investigation is complete. The Department should also refer serious complaints, such as those
involving an inmate death or severe bodily injury, directly to the Inspector General (who may
also refer it directly to the Attorney General or appropriate District Attorney).
The investigative system, including the Inspector General review, must include a performance
review component, both to train and provide feedback to DOC investigators. This component
would brief those whose findings are reviewed independently, would reinforce good
investigatory practices and would permit the Department to sanction investigators who
consistently fail to meet standards of competence. Positive, negative and informational feedback
to the staff is also a key benefit of the investigative process, affording opportunities to reinforce
appropriate staff conduct, to reassure and validate staff whose actions are upheld after
independent investigation, and to train or discipline staff, where necessary.
The Commission therefore recommends:
¾ An independent investigatory body, such as an Inspector General, with the authority and
staff to investigate complaints about Department personnel, inmates or prison conditions,
reporting directly to an official outside the Department, but within the Executive Office of
Public Safety;
¾ Enhancements to the Department’s initial investigatory capacity, with improved staff
training and selection of staff experienced in investigations;
¾ Concurrent jurisdiction of the Commissioner and the “Inspector General” to undertake
final investigations of complaints regarding staff misconduct or other prison conditions;

193

We choose the term “Inspector General” only for ease of reference, without implying any particular features of
such an office beyond what is set forth in this report.

64

¾ Power of the “Inspector General” to take over any investigation at any time, with a
presumption for such a take-over for all incidents involving death or serious bodily injury;
¾ Provision for feedback to, and training of, investigatory and other staff, based upon the
ultimate conclusions regarding the adequacy of investigations and conduct of other
Department staff; and
¾ Periodic review and adjustment of the Inspector General policies and procedures at least
annually to evaluate and make any needed improvements.
Data Management Systems
As more information is collected electronically and centrally, it is essential that management
systems evolve to capture this information. Otherwise, centralization might reduce, not increase,
effective oversight. The Department’s inmate management system provides an opportunity for
increased central management, but it requires training and new expectations for it to be utilized.
The addition of a performance measurement system for management accountability could build
upon this infrastructure and assist with revising management practices.
In addition, the Department could benefit from revising the organizational structure, policies and
internal communication systems to help identify areas for reform. Numerous sources of
information exist in the Department that, if analyzed and communicated, could help identify
problems and prevent larger ones. For example, in defending inmate litigation, the General
Counsel's office has the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of problems. While some
complaints inevitably are baseless, others deserve a higher degree of attention and review perhaps on policy rather than legal grounds. The General Counsel's Office's should be
specifically charged with identifying potential problem areas and trends as well as opportunities
for improvement, and communicating information throughout the Department. Similarly, the
Grievance & Correspondence Coordinator should have responsibility not only for bringing
meritorious grievances to the attention of investigators, but also for examining grievance
information for patterns and trends. Once again, this information should be communicated to the
Commissioner.
Unit Management
Another suggested method for improving fairness and consistency in operations is the
management system known as “Unit Management.” This system relies on unit management
teams comprised of security, treatment, and program staff. The staff operates under the
leadership of the unit (or team) manager and is assigned to the inmates in a particular housing
unit. The unit management team is responsible for all aspects of the care, custody, classification,
and reentry planning for the inmates in that unit. Within the unit, the staff observes the inmates
and learns their respective strengths and weaknesses as exhibited in a variety of living situations.
From this perspective, the unit management team is well positioned to recommend program,
work and security related assignments, as well as work with the inmates and other members of
the unit team to set appropriate goals for step-down through the prison system and ultimately for
reentry into the community.

65

The Department should conduct a system-wide facility review to ensure that
its physical plant is consistent with the security needs of the staff and the
inmate population, and the Department’s mission.
The capacity of the prisons, and the configuration of the facilities, must be consistent with the
inmate population and the Department’s mission. Physical plant considerations should not drive
classification. While they may inevitably influence decisions in the short run, they should not do
so in the long run. The state of Massachusetts presently appears to have more maximum security
beds than are necessary and fewer minimum security beds than are needed. Ultimately, the
Department must complete a full assessment of capacity and needs. This is essential information
for making capital decisions, and should be completed within three years. As part of this
process, it makes sense to consider the population under supervision of the county Sheriffs’
Departments. Massachusetts is an outlier in having so many distinct jurisdictions relative to the
size of its overall inmate population. Some gains in efficiency, effectiveness, and security could
be realized if the county and state facilities were operated in a more coordinated manner.
The Department should adequately protect and care for inmates in protective
custody.
The Department should adopt and follow procedures that allow for the proper management, care,
custody and control of inmates in protective custody. The procedures should include the
following components, raised in the Administrative Investigation:
¾ Careful consideration of the operational procedures that allow inmates in protective
custody to have contact with one another, especially inmates who have been assigned to
different security levels.
¾ Inmates in protective custody must be protected from harm from inmates within the unit.
¾ Correction officers chosen to work in protective custody blocks should be specially
selected and trained, particularly with reference to dealing with inmates who present
special challenges.
¾ Inmates with different security levels should not be mixed in protective custody.
The Department should increase the linguistic diversity and cultural
competence of its workforce.
Clear and effective communication between inmates and correction officers contributes to
operational integrity and safety. To make its operational systems fair and predictable, the
Department should take steps to address the low levels of linguistic diversity and increase the
cultural competence of its staff. The Department should aggressively recruit diverse staff, and
should offer incentives for staff to learn Spanish, and other suitable languages.
Operational integrity requires that those subject to a policy (such as classification or discipline)
understand it. Multi-lingual staff or translators must be available. Increased competence in
English among inmates, through more ESL classes, may go a long way to reducing the need for
translation services. The current “hotline” is in no way sufficient for these purposes.
66

VI. FISCAL CONSIDERATIONS

I

ncarceration is expensive. Each citizen in the Commonwealth pays $63 each year to fund the
Department of Correction, and it is reasonable to ask what that money produces. The
Commission argues that we should expect this expensive undertaking to produce enhanced
public safety by reducing re-offense by inmates returning to the community. Instead, what we
know is that the vast majority of offenders will be released, many directly from maximum
security prison with no further monitoring. While inside, many sit idle, rather than working or
participating in programs to reduce their risk of re-offending upon release. And in just three
years after release, nearly half of them will be convicted of a new crime.
The Commission has set forth recommendations to reform this process to make better use of
public dollars by applying what we know about how to reduce re-offense and manage efficiently.
The Commission did not undertake a thorough budget analysis, but members were always aware
of the fiscal environment and of government’s responsibility to be efficient with public money.
Some of our recommendations cost money; others conserve it. The Commission does not
advocate for the Department’s budget to be reduced. Rather, we urge that funds be reallocated to
establish an enhanced managerial leadership capacity, an accountability system, and a
comprehensive reentry process.
Our recommendations reallocate resources within the current budget of the Department of
Correction to produce substantial improvements in public safety and efficiency, without
compromising institutional security.
Moreover, if the report’s recommendations are
implemented, the Department’s budget will more closely reflect its full set of priorities,
including reducing the rate of re-offense by former inmates.
We acknowledge that some existing policies, operating procedures, and external factors will
make these reallocations difficult, if not impossible, without pre-requisite changes. For example,
some of our recommendations are dependent on revising the classification system; some are
dependent on changes in sentencing laws; and some are dependent on transferring staff. We
have attempted to highlight in the report instances where these factors appear to be significant.
Highlighted below are areas of greatest fiscal impact for further discussion:
Managing staffing costs
Our review has determined that management failed to effectively manage several critical aspects
of staffing costs. The DOC’s staffing levels of one employee for every two inmates are among
the highest in the nation.194 In light of this, it should not be necessary to rely on substantial
amounts of overtime spending. At a minimum, the Department should commission a full
staffing analysis to determine the actual staffing needs, which would allow the Department to
operate with as few overtime expenditures as possible. By reducing overtime spending by 25%

194

James J. Stephan, State Prison Expenditures, 2001, (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 2004)

67

the Department could reallocate $2.6 million in just one year; reductions by 50% over $5
million; and reductions by 90% over $9 million.195
Absenteeism, both paid and unpaid, is another large factor in high staffing costs. Correction
officer paid sick leave usage alone costs the Department approximately $21 million per year.
Currently, correction officers use an average of 52 paid days off, or over 10 weeks per year.
Reducing the number of days off by 12 days, still leaving 8 weeks of paid time off, would enable
the Department to recoup approximately $14 million.196
The Department has a high number of workers (313) out on industrial accident leave. Stronger
management of risks, medical care, and facilitating return to work can yield better working
conditions and reduced expenditures. Without a thorough review it is impossible to estimate
how much of the nearly $14 million currently spent on workers’ compensation could be avoided
in the future by implementing our recommendations in a fair and professional way.
Reducing Re-Offense
If the Department is able to implement a comprehensive reentry strategy, including expanding
proven programs designed to reduce recidivism, the Commonwealth will be able to realize
savings from reduced crime. This is, of course, in addition to the gains to citizens from reduced
victimization. The potential here is great. For example, if the re-incarceration rate were reduced
by just five percentage points, then, to the extent that the Department is able to close units or
entire institutions, reallocate staff, and reduce other expenses proportionately, the
Commonwealth potentially could save the money necessary to house, feed, and monitor 130
inmates.
Restructuring the Department
As the Department fully implements our recommendations, and is able to incarcerate inmates at
the lowest security level consistent with public safety, it may be appropriate to restructure the
physical plant and reallocate, or even reduce, staffing levels. Presently, the Department overrelies on the most costly form of punishment, i.e. incapacitation in high-security prison facilities.
If policies and procedures are reformed so that this is no longer necessary in order to ensure
institutional safety for inmates, staff and the public, then substantial cost savings are possible.
Investing in a Comprehensive Reentry Strategy
The Commission’s recommendations to improve and increase the extent to which inmates are
prepared for release will have substantial short-term costs. Resources are needed to improve use
of risk assessment, develop and expand programs proven to reduce risk of re-offense, and expand
195

In FY2004, the estimated overtime payroll equals $10,236,845, according to the March 24, 2004 budget
presentation by Kyra Silva, Acting Budget Director.
196
This calculation uses the weighted average cost $88,000, per officer, to derive a weekly cost of $1692. Reducing
the paid days off by 12 days, or 2.5 weeks, would save $4230 per officer, or $14 million assuming a workforce of
3600.

68

post-release monitoring and supervision. Some of the investments should be made through the
Department, others should be directed through the Board of Parole. As noted above, over time,
these efforts are expected to produce savings for the Commonwealth, but the returns will be
realized a year or more in the future.
The current budget and staff effort dedicated to programs and reentry is not sufficient to achieve
the goals of this report. Given limited resources, aspects of a comprehensive reentry program
may need to be prioritized and/or phased in over time.
Investing in Management Accountability
Establishing a system-wide performance measurement and accountability system, similar to the
TEAMS system in New York City, would require additional resources to collect and analyze
performance-related data. The Commission estimates that the data collection capacity would
require new technology and a sizeable staff to be able to gather reliable and timely figures
throughout the system and conduct appropriate analyses. The results in New York reflected
numerous opportunities and strategies for cost reductions.
In fact, the management
accountability system was credited for a significant reduction in overtime expenditures.
Re-Thinking Sentencing Costs
Prison sentences are established by the legislature and imposed by the courts. They also
influence the majority of the Department’s costs. For example, mandatory minimum sentences,
by their terms, restrict certain lower security classifications for all those who are subject to them,
without any opportunity for a case-by-case determination. In fact, 84% of the DOC population is
restricted at some point by statute from participating in pre-release programming. Currently,
nearly 16% of the DOC population is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence for a drug
offense. These restrictions drive much of the high classification in the Department and,
consequently, drive up the overall costs to the Commonwealth.
Other inmates waive their right to a parole hearing or are given sentences that allow them to
finish their sentences while still in the DOC, thus avoiding parole supervision in the community.
It is, therefore, important that the legislature periodically review the appropriateness of criminal
sentences, considering the costs and benefits of the length, range, specific terms, restrictions, and
their relationship to public safety. As the Department implements a revised classification
process and shifts resources accordingly, and if the Legislature revisits this issue, it should be
possible to bring the Department more in line with national staffing levels and classification
patterns, thereby reducing overall operating expenses.
Summary of Fiscal Implications
To summarize the fiscal implications of our recommendations, the Commission advocates for a
reallocation of existing resources from under-managed staffing costs to improving inmate, staff,
and management accountability and performance. Increasing accountability for outcomes -including the prudent use of public money – is a reasonable expectation for a public agency. The
69

Department must be given the resources it needs to fulfill its obligations, role, and mission as a
partner in enhancing public safety. Then it must be held accountable for utilizing these resources
efficiently, effectively, and proactively.

70

VII. CONCLUSION

T

his report has set forth a comprehensive blueprint for the Department of Correction. Our
recommendations are intended to improve accountability for managers, staff, and inmates;
strengthen public safety through a comprehensive prisoner reentry strategy; ensure fair and
consistent policies and practices; and institute system-wide fiscal discipline. All of these
measures support the ultimate goal of enhancing public safety and fiscal responsibility.
We are encouraged by recent changes instituted by Commissioner Dennehy. We also recognize
that despite the leadership and support of Secretary Flynn and Governor Romney, the
Commissioner cannot accomplish the tasks set out in this report alone. She must also receive the
support of her full staff and valued external stakeholders. We call on these key players to engage
with the Commissioner in implementing our recommendations.
We believe that the Department of Correction, by adopting the recommendations presented in
this report as a road map for action and reform, can become a strong and vital partner in
improving the quality of life and public safety in Massachusetts, and perhaps even become a
national model.

71

APPENDIX I. COMMISSION ACTIVITIES AND SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Commission Meetings
The full Commission held 13 closed session meetings between November 2003 and June 2004.
The Commission met on the following dates: November 17, 2003, December 3, 2003, December
10, 2003, January 7, 2004, January 21, 2004, February 4, 2004, March 10, 2004, March 24,
2004, April 7, 2004, May 5, 2004, May 19, 2004, June 2, 2004, and June 16, 2004.
Working Group Meetings
The Commission broke into three working groups, which met at regular intervals throughout the
duration of the Commission. The working groups were: 1) Governance, 2) Operations, and 3)
Security, Programs, and Reintegration. They focused on establishing objectives, identifying
performance gaps, and establishing immediate, short-term, and long term goals.
Site Visits
Commissioners or members of the Commission staff made visits to 12 sites during this eightmonth period. On most visits, the Commissioners or Commission staff members met with the
superintendent, were given a facility tour, observed the operations and procedures at each site,
and spoke with employees and inmates. The sites visited were: Boston Pre-Release Center,
Bridgewater State Hospital, Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center, Massachusetts
Treatment Center, MCI-Concord, MCI-Cedar Junction, MCI-Framingham, MCI-Norfolk, MCIPlymouth, South Middlesex Correctional Center, and Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center. In
addition, several Commissioners and Commission staff members visited Rikers Island in New
York City to observe their TEAMS system and also met with the Commissioner of the New
York City Department of Corrections.
Information and Data from the Department of Correction
Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy was very responsive to requests of the Commission.
Commissioner Dennehy made three formal presentations to the Commission and provided
numerous written communications. Secretary Edward Flynn also attended the public hearing
and Commission meetings and contributed valuable input and direction to the Commission
members.
Over the course of the eight months, the Department of Correction made several presentations to
Commissioners and made numerous senior staff members available to answer Commissioners’
questions. These DOC staff included Michael Thompson, Director of Offender Management and
Placement; Ronald Duval, Associate Commissioner; Dr. Rhiana Kohl, Director of Research &
Planning; Kyra Silva, Acting Budget Director; Peter Macchi, Director of Administrative
Services; Sue Martin, Director of Health Services; Carolyn Vicari, Director of Inmate Training
and Education; Allison Hallett, Director of Program Services; and Brian Kearnan, Program
Coordinator of Program Services.
72

Two of the unions representing DOC employees provided testimony at the public hearing and
three unions presented at a closed Commission meeting. The Public Safety Chapter of S.E.I.U.
Local 509 was represented by President David Pizzi. Massachusetts Corrections Officers
Federated Union was represented by President Steve Kenneway. The International Brotherhood
of Correctional Officers, Local R-1-10 also provided testimony to the full Commission at a
closed meeting and was represented by Captain Patrick DePaulo.
Several representatives from UMASS Correctional Health & Criminal Justice Program made a
presentation to the full Commission, including June S. Binney, Director; Andrew J. Harris,
Ph.D., Deputy Director; Arthur Brewer, MD, Medical Director; Kenneth Appelbaum, MD,
Mental Health Director; Patti Onorato, RN., MS., Director for Nursing and Patient Care
Services. Presentations were also made by Paul D. Romary, Executive Director, Lemuel
Shattuck Hospital and Joseph Cohen, MD, Medical Director, Lemuel Shattuck Hospital.
Guest speakers at full Commission meetings and Working Group meetings
A diverse group of guest speakers from agencies and organizations outside of the DOC, along
with their staff members, shared their expertise and experiences with the Commission in the
closed session meetings. The following individuals and their staff met with the full Commission
at Commission meetings (in order of appearance): Maureen E. Walsh, Chair, Massachusetts
Parole Board; Michael J. Ashe, Jr., Sheriff Hampden County Jail & House of Correction; George
Camp, Ph.D., Criminal Justice Institute, Inc.; Mark F. Delaney, Major, Massachusetts State
Police; Leslie Walker, Director, Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services; and Rebecca
Young, Prison Brutality Project, Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services.
Individuals representing a variety of groups were invited to testify at the public hearing on
February 25, 2004, including law enforcement, victims groups, defense attorneys, former
inmates, family members of current inmates, service providers, correction officers’ unions,
prison advocacy groups, among others. The Commission invited 73 individuals and
organizations, and 38 individuals provided oral and written testimony. In addition, testimony
was received from eight groups that did not appear at the public hearing.
Documents and Research Information
Commission members and staff also received, cataloged, and reviewed approximately 295
documents and research materials. These documents were critical to the formulation of our
findings and recommendations.
Staff Surveys
The Commission conducted employee surveys for three staff levels of the Department of
Correction. Survey respondents were made aware that their participation was voluntary and that
their responses would be kept confidential. Surveys were sent to the superintendents and
captains at all 18 DOC facilities. We received responses from 17 superintendents and 12
captains. Surveys were also given to every correction officer and correction program officer at

73

six DOC facilities at varying security levels. We received 69 completed surveys from
correctional officers and correctional program officers.
Focus Groups and Correspondence
The Commission conducted four inmate focus groups with male and female inmates currently
incarcerated in DOC facilities. On May 12, 2004 two focus groups with a total of 20 inmate
participants were held at MCI-Norfolk. On May 13, 2004, two focus groups were held at MCIFramingham with a total of 19 inmate participants. Inmates from those facilities who did not
have the opportunity to participate in the focus groups were invited to send their comments to the
Commission. A total of six inmates from MCI-Norfolk and 10 inmates from MCI-Framingham
submitted correspondence after the focus groups were conducted.
In addition, the Commission received written correspondence from approximately 215 inmates
(inmate letters were received from every DOC facility). These letters described inmates’ own
perceptions of problems with DOC practices and policies, and some made suggestions for reform
and improvements.
The Commission received approximately 75 letters from individuals and organizations outside of
the DOC, such as Legislators, family members of inmates, and special interest groups.

74

APPENDIX II. DOC CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES BY SECURITY LEVEL

1. Bay State Correctional Center
2. Boston Pre-Release Center
3. Bridgewater State Hospital
4. Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Correctional Unit
5. Mass Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center
6. Mass Treatment Center
7. MCI-Cedar Junction
8. MCI-Concord
9. MCI-Framingham
10. MCI-Norfolk
11. MCI-Plymouth
12. MCI-Shirley
13. North Central Correctional Institution (Gardner)
14. Northeastern Correctional Center
15. Old Colony Correctional Center
16. Pondville Correctional Center
17. South Middlesex Correctional Center
18. Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center

Security
Level
4
3/2
4
4
4
4
6
4
4
4
3
4
4
3/2
5/3
3/2
3/2
6

Inmate Population as
of March 29, 2004*
296
95
342
188
580
671
1,065
474
1,430
185
1,084
965
220
870
196
86
1,007

# of Facilities
Level 6
2
Level 5/3
1
Level 4
10
Level 3
1
Level 3/2
4
Level 2
0
Level 1
0
Total
18
*Source: Massachusetts Department of Correction, Quarterly Report on the Status of Prisoner
Overcrowding, First Quarter of 2004, (Boston, MA: April 2004).

75

APPENDIX III. OUTCOME - PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
Section II of this report (Leadership and Accountability) recommends that the Department
institute a performance measurement and accountability system. The Commission reviewed a
number of different systems that measure correctional performance by monitoring key outcome
measures and that aim to increase overall system accountability, performance, and planning.
New York City’s Corrections Department’s TEAMS (Total Efficiency Accountability
Management System), introduced in 1994, incorporates over 160 indicators organized in five
major categories: security, programs, administration, capital development, and support services,
compliance and integrity. The Bristol County Sheriff’s Department, which modeled its system
called SAMS (Strategic Accountability Management System) after TEAMS has a similar
number of indicators organized by the categories security, administrative, inmate
programs/education, and food services but also has separate divisional reports for its internal
affairs/criminal investigations, transportation, and finance divisions. Notably, in 2003, the
Association of State Correctional Administrators published a final report on its multi-year effort
to survey the correctional field and to determine the most feasible and generic indicators to
measure correctional performance and categorized indicators into four main groupings: public
safety, institutional safety, treatment and programming, and offender profile.
As an exercise, the Commission developed a preliminary set of outcome-performance indicators
synthesized from these and other sources that could assist the Commissioner and outside
observers in assessing the performance of the DOC. The indicators are organized in seven
categories: prison profile, staffing, security, support services, training and compliance,
medical, and reentry. The “prison profile” provide a snapshot of the facility and inmate
population including commitments, releases, and daily counts; “staffing” provides an overview
of the staff resources assigned to a facility, their availability, overtime, and staff discipline;
“security” provides measures of institutional safety including activities of internal affairs
departments; “support services” describes the performance of maintenance and other support
operations; “training and compliance” documents in-service training and internal and external
compliance efforts; “medical” offers a snapshot of the medical needs of the inmate population
and the activities of the care givers; and “reentry” provides an description of rehabilitation
programs, institutional activities, and classification processes. We envision that the Department
would provide these and other data in real-time, using an information management system.

76

PRISON PROFILE

STAFFING

1. Facility Name
2. Capacity and Population
a. Total Beds
b. Closed for consolidation
c. Closed for construction
d. Beds at standard
e. Downcells
f. Population
3. Commitments
a. Offense Types
b. Security Levels
c. Average time to serve
d. Parole eligibility
4. Releases
a. By post-release status
b. By security level
c. With Transition plans
d. Victim/law enforcement
notification
e. Average time served
5. Financial
a. Operating budget
b. Actual costs
c. Cost per available bed
6. Daily Counts
a. # of attempts for accurate
count
b. Location of discrepancies
7. Prisoner Characteristics
a. By offense type
b. By security level
c. By gang involvement
d. By ethnicity
e. By age

1. Facility Name
2. Leadership (name & assign date)
a. Superintendent
b. Director of security
c. Director of programs
3. Human Resources as of date
a. Superintendents FTE
b. Asst. Supt. FTE
c. Asst. Dep. FTE
d. Captain FTE
e. Correctional Officers FTE
f. Total Uniforms FTE
g. Civilian FTEs
h. Inmate/Uniform Staff Ratio
i. Inmate/Total Staff ratio
4. Uniform Officer Availability
a. Indefinite sick
b. TDY
c. Suspensions
d. MMR in/out
e. Modified Duty
f. Other leave
g. Final Leave
h. Total Unavailable
i. % Assigned available
j. % T.O. Available
5. Average Sick Days
a. Uniform
i. Line of Duty injury
ii. Non-LODI
6. Civilian Facility Overtime spending
a. Uniform
b. Civilian
7. Overtime Hours
a. Uniform
b. Civilian
8. Total Uniform Vacation
9. Absence Control
10. Chronic Sick Facility Overtime
spending
a. Uniform
b. Civilian
11. Overtime Hours
a. Uniform
b. Civilian

77

STAFFING (CONTINUED)

SECURITY

12. Total Uniform Vacation
13. Absence Control
a. Chronic Sick
14. Mutuals
a. Requested
b. Approved
15. Staff Arrests
a. Uniform
b. Civilian
c. Uniform
d. Civilian
e. Contraband found
16. Staff Drug Testing
a. Random
b. Other
c. Positive
d. 12/24 Hour Housing
17. Staff Misconduct
a. Verbal warning
b. Written warning
c. Suspension
d. Demotion
e. Termination
18. Command Discipline
a. Pending
b. Transferred out
c. Adjudicated
d. Hearings
i. Dispositions
19. EEO Complaints
a. Open
b. Closed Facility Overtime
spending
c. Uniform
d. Civilian

78

1. Escapes
2. Erroneous Discharges
3. Physical/Sexual Assaults
a. Homicide (Attempts/Methods)
b. Suicide (Attempts/Methods)
c. Prisoner on prisoner assault
d. Prisoner on staff assault
e. Prisoner sexual assault on
prisoners
f. Prisoner sexual assaults on
staff
g. Sexual misconduct on
prisoners
4. Suicide Attempts
a. Number of attempts
b. Hanging
c. Cut Wrists
d. Other
5. Use of Force
a. Intensity Levels
b. Methods
i. Physical
ii. Chemical
iii. Electronic
6. Staff Duress Calls
a. Emergencies
b. False Alarms
7. Random Prisoner Drug Testing
a. Number tests by location
b. Results by type/location
8. Searches
a. Scheduled (by shifts)
b. Unscheduled
c. Random
d. Tactical
e. Canine
9. Cell Inspections
a. Scheduled (by shifts)
b. Unscheduled (by shifts)
10. Drugs Recovered
a. Locations
b. Type
11. Weapons Recovered
a. Locations
b. Type
12. Disturbances
a. Lockdowns (by
reason/location)
b. Officer down (by type and
location)

SECURITY (CONTINUED)
13. Security Risk Group Affiliation
a. # beginning of month
b. # identified during month
c. # removed/renounced
affiliation
d. # at end of month
14. Disciplinary Reports
a. # of reports
i. Seriousness levels
ii. Categories
b. # pending at beginning of
month
c. # resolved
d. Dispositions (by category)
e. Average time from filing to
disposition
f. # pending at end of month
15. Idleness
a. Inmate w/o treatment or work
16. Inmate Grievances
a. Number/Category
b. Pending prior month
c. Filed in current month
d. Processed (dispositions)
e. Pending end of month
f. Average # days for disposition
17. Out of cell time (average)
a. By housing unit
b. Lockdowns (by housing unit)
c. Informal 24 hr Lock-ins
i. By housing unit
18. Transportation
a. By destinations
b. On-time court production
19. Visits
a. Number visitors barred from
facility
i. Duration
ii. Reasons
20. Arrests
a. Visitor (by category)
b. Inmate (by category)
21. Internal Affairs/Criminal
Investigations
a. Destroying city property
b. Inmate assaults
c. Officer assaults
d. Drug investigations
e. Strong arm investigations
f. Open lewd
g. Employee investigations

SECURITY (CONTINUED)
22. Criminal Prosecutions
a. A&B on CO
b. A&B on Civilian Staff
c. Drug Laws
d. A&B on Inmate
e. Destruction of property
f. Arson
g. Theft
h. Fugitives
i. Threats
j. Other
23. Monthly caseload
a. Destruction of property
b. Inmate assaults
c. Officer assaults
d. Drug Investigations
e. Employee Investigations
f. Strong Arming
g. Open Lewd
h. Staff Interviews
i. Inmate Interviews
j. Miscellaneous
k. Case History
i. Cases completed
ii. Cases open
iii. Cases open previous
month

79

SUPPORT SERVICES

TRAINING, COMPLIANCE,
& INTEGRITY

1. Maintenance
a. Work Orders Received
b. WO completed
c. Average # WO open
2. Major Capital Projects
a. Number/type
b. On-schedule/budget
3. Maintenance Projects Open
a. Shower
b. Locking
c. Flooring
d. Miscellaneous
4. Maintenance Overtime Hours
a. Scheduled
b. Actual
5. Elevator Maintenance
a. Total #
i. Available
ii. Inoperable
6. Vehicles
a. Total number by type
i. Available
ii. Inoperable
7. Meals
a. Number delivered
b. Missed
8. Laundry
a. Uniforms
b. Linens
9. Canteen
a. Deliveries
10. Inmate Generated Revenue
a. Telephone
b. Haircuts
c. Medical co-payments
d. Canteen
e.

1. New Employee Training
a. Total staff (civilian/uniform)
b. Number of hours
2. In-Service Training by Category
a. Total staff
i. Uniform
ii. Non-uniform
b. Percent appeared
c. Average in-service hours
d. In-house Training hours
e. Outside Training Hours &
Documentation
3. Audits/accreditation
a. Internal/external
i. Location
ii. Functional area
iii. Results
iv. Date of last audit
1. by location
2. by functional area
4. Fire Safety Inspections
a. # Drills by shifts
b. Inspections
i. Started
ii. Completed
iii. On-going
iv. Pending informal
resolution
c. Other inspections
i. Completed
ii. Pending informal
resolution
d. Emergency Response
5. Environmental Health
a. Sanitation Inspections
b. Total Areas Inspected
c. Total Critical violations
i. Food violations
d. Total Serious Violations
i. Completed
ii. Open
e. Inmate Showers

80

MEDICAL CARE

INSTITUTIONAL PROGRAMS AND
REENTRY

1. Intake Screenings
a. Pending from prior month
b. Total number screened
c. Pending at end of month
d. % screened of total monthly
commits
e. Average time from booking to
screening
f. Suicide/at-risk ideations requiring
monitoring
g. Self-reported
i. Prescriptions
ii. Mental health
iii. Physical health
h. Diagnosed
i. Mental health
ii. Physical health
2. Health Status
a. Average Daily # of prisoners with
specified physical medical
conditions
b. Average Daily # of prisoners with
specified mental health conditions
3. Mental/Medical Watches
a. # detainees on watches
b. 15 minute
c. 30 minute
d. Eyeball
e. Other
4. Medical
a. Quarantines
b. Number
c. Reasons
d. Duration
5. Sick Call
a. Housing areas eligible
b. Housing areas called
c. Inmates called
d. % inmates called
e. Average minutes waited
f. Inmates waiting over 3 hours
6. Hospital Runs
a. Medical
b. Psychological

1. Releasees Characteristics
a. Average time served
b. Post-release status
c. Security level
d. Programming
i. Substance abuse
ii. Education
iii. Work
iv. Community reentry
plans
e. Victim/law enforcement
notification
f. Return address
2. Recidivism
a. New crimes
b. Past crimes
c. Violations
3. Substance Abuse
a. # with diagnosed SA needs
b. Enrolled in intensive programs
c. Attending commitments
d. # of those in need in programs
4. Education
a. #of prisoners reading below 4th
grade in school
b. # of prisoners needing ESOL in
school
c. # of prisoners in secondary
diploma programs
d. # of prisoners in vocational
diploma programs
e. # in post-secondary programs
5. Work
a. Prison Industry
i. # of prisoners
ii. Production/revenue
b. Work Release
i. # of prisoners
ii. Production/revenue
c. Details
i. Kitchen
ii. Maintenance
iii. Unit

81

INSTITUTIONAL PROGRAMS AND
REENTRY (Continued)
6. Visits
a. By housing unit
b. Cancellations
7. Recreation
a. By housing unit
b. Cancellations
8. Law/general Library Attendance
a. By housing unit
b. Cancellations
9. Religious Attendance
a. Denomination
10. Social Services
a. # of Requests by type
b. # resolved
c. # pending
11. Restitution
a. Restitution
b. Court fees
c. Child support
12. Classifications
a. # of initial classifications
b. # of reclassifications
c. # resulting in step down
placement
d. # of classification to programs
e. Special management quotient

82

 

 

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