By Sergeant Keith Germain – Military Peer Support Specialist
The past four years the Military Peer Support Program (MPSP) has put an annual road race together to raise funds for our veterans in their time of need. The money is used for a variety of situations from care packages, lawn care and snow removal for deployed officers, as well as money given to officers during financial crises and donations to local veteran outreach centers.
A new component of the MPSP race is the annual “Patriot Award”. The team event was added to last year’s MPSP race to create team spirit and increase participation. The objective for a team was to have the most members register for the event whether it was to walk or run. As captain of “Team Framingham”, Officer Golden recruited 21 members which led Framingham to victory. Having the greatest amount of participants, Framingham received the first Patriot Award for last year’s 2015 Annual Military Peer Support Road Race.
It was a great pleasure to be along side Correction Officers Danielle Golden and Yolanda Henderson as they presented Superintendent Paul Henderson of MCI-Framingham with the Military Peer Support 5K Run/Walk “Patriot Award” and thanked him for his continued support in our efforts to assist DOC veterans.
Save the date for our 5th Annual MPSP 5k it is scheduled for Sunday May 22, 2016 with a new web site to register. www.northeastracers.com
By J.Santos, Mediator- Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity
Countless DOC employees have taught me that it takes a lot of grit to have a discussion about workplace issues and the role everyone can play to improve things for the better. Everywhere I go, I always get asked the following three questions which have become motivators in my daily work.
Q.1: “So a mediator means you decide the outcome right?”
Not exactly and here is why. Mediation is the art and science of using dialogue to help people solve difficult problems. I like to say my job is a mix between a Taxi Cab Driver, Waiter, Coach, and Interpreter. The similarity between all these roles is that the main task is to assist someone else in reaching an end goal. What is unique about mediation as opposed to other forums—
grievance, litigation, arbitration—is that the outcome is not up to me but it’s the job of employees to find their own resolution. Employees do the hard part which entails talking through a difficult issue with a coworker or supervisor.
Q.2: “What difference does what you do make?”
Since its inception in FY 2009, the Meet to Resolve Mediation (MTR) Program has provided employees, supervisors, managers, and teams alternative ways to address workplace conflict.
From our performance metrics the numbers tell us that our efforts have made a difference in the following ways:
In addition to performance data employees themselves have shared their own experiences in utilizing the MTR program:
“It was a difficult process but very helpful and I believe it will solve our issues.”
“I have changed since the mediation.”
“Great experience, great weight gone….glad it worked.”
Q.3: “What is Meet to Resolve aiming for?”
Program services can be powerful as I have witnessed employees shed away years of frustration through open dialogue and honesty. Workplaces have improved simply because the Meet to Resolve program provided the space needed for employees to talk things out, get to the core of the issue, and find ways to move forward. Despite any and all efforts, workplace conflict will happen so long as we are human. Everyone plays a part in improving a situation for better or worse. The difference maker really boils down to how we choose to engage those around us.
If you have questions or would like to find out more about the Meet to Resolve program consider contacting me via phone (508-850-7747) or email jovonte.santos@MassMail.State.MA.US
By Michael P. Donaher, PREA Coordinator
Forty-two investigators from throughout the DOC and several counties (Berkshire, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Middlesex, Plymouth, and Worcester) came together to participate in the Sexual Assault Investigator’s Training (SAIT), which took place in the DOC’s Milford headquarters during February 3-5, 2016. The training, mandated by the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), requires all sexual assault investigators to go through specialized training prior to undertaking any PREA related investigation. Additionally, this training is also a critical, mandatory component to ensure a facility meets the requirements set forth in the Department of Justice PREA audit standards, without it a facility cannot pass their respective DOJ PREA audit.
Patrick DePalo, Chief of Investigative Services noted in his opening remarks at the start of the training the importance of the training and the comprehensive nature of a PREA investigation. He underscored the fact that those in attendance were chosen as investigators based on their “demonstrated potential, professionalism and maturity.”
Chief DePalo went on to say, “Just because an inmate is locked-up doesn’t mean no one cares. It is your responsibility as an investigator to uncover the facts during your investigation and ensure that the inmates entrusted in our care are kept safe and free of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.”
Jennifer Gaffney, Director of the Policy Development and Compliance & PREA Unit thanked the participants for their attendance and emphasized the critical nature of the training. Director Gaffney reminded staff that the DOC has a “zero tolerance toward all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.” She noted the DOC successfully passed 10 DOJ PREA audits over the last several months, and was quick to point-out that “without this type of training, the DOC would not have been successful in passing these last ten audits.” She concluded her remarks by expressing her appreciation to members of the Office of Investigations and the members for the Division of Staff Development for their assistance in coordinating the SAIT.
Over the course of three days, participants were provided with a number of presentations, case vignettes and hands-on training scenarios which included: techniques for interviewing sexual assault victims, proper use of Miranda and Garrity warnings and Weingarten rights, sexual abuse evidence collection in a confinement setting, and the criteria and evidence required to substantiate a case for administrative action or prosecution referral.
The training culminated on day three with a “round table” discussion with the following panel members: Kartia Santiago-Taylor & Dave Rini, both from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Attorney Daryl Glazer, from DOC Legal Division, and Sherry Menendez, from the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab. These panel members were able to share their years of experience and offered those in attendance with their “best practices” in their respective areas of expertise.
Based on the enthusiastic participation by the attendees and the initial review of the course evaluations by them, the SAIT was an overwhelming success.
Many thanks to the following SAIT trainers: Denise McDonough (BSH), Janice Perez, Mark Richards and Erica Bouchard (MCI-Shirley), Danielle Laurenti (MCI-Norfolk), Matt Proplaski (NCCI) and John Tamoosh (Plymouth County). As a direct result of their professionalism, expertise and commitment to ensure that the PREA standards are consistently being met, both the DOC and the county correctional facilities continue to embody the cornerstones of PREA: Prevention, Detection and Response to all allegations of sexual assaults and or sexual harassment within a correctional setting.
A big “thank you!” to Linda Melo of the PDCU for coordinating the registration process, her assistance throughout the entire process was invaluable.
By James Rioux, Director of Classification and Treatment
The reduction of patient seclusion and restraint is a national safety goal in psychiatric facilities, both private and public, including at Bridgewater State Hospital (BSH). In an effort to meet this national safety goal BSH staff have received specialized training in trauma and de-escalation techniques; increased our crisis coverage; developed individualized de-escalation plans for each patient; created the A-1 Step Program (featured in the ATB newsletter on 12/14/15), and re-purposed areas to create therapeutic environments on each unit called Quiet Rooms and Comfort or Sensory Rooms to reduce patient seclusion and restraint.
In early 2015, two Performance Improvements Teams, composed of a multidisciplinary team of professionals were formed to develop the protocols, physical space, and inventories for these two therapeutic environments. From February to May 2015 Quiet Rooms were established at BSH to serve as an intervention when a patient is demonstrating signature signs of distress and/or clinical deterioration. For example, the patient might be experiencing auditory hallucinations and may benefit from listening to the walk-man which may prevent his symptoms from rising above a baseline level of distress. Patients already presenting with higher levels of stress from their baseline may benefit from use of the Quiet Room in an effort to prevent further escalation of symptoms and avoid subsequent admissions to the Intensive Treatment Unit. They may also be used by patients to manage every day anxiety related to their incarceration or hospitalization. Quiet Rooms are specifically designated on each unit and can be voluntarily used Monday thru Friday or when indicated by a crisis clinician and discontinued by the patient at any time. Use of the room will also be discontinued if a patient demonstrates a serious threat of extreme violence, personal injury or attempts suicide. Quiet Rooms can only be occupied by one patient at a time. All Quiet Rooms are equipped with a chalkboard, TV, sound machine, rocking chair, noise reducing headphones, desk and stool.
In October of 2015 BSH introduced Comfort Rooms in several of the housing units. They currently serve as an additional clinical intervention to moderate clinical symptoms, reduce the use of seclusion and restraint, and further improve the environment of care for patients at BSH. Comfort Rooms are used as both an incentive for patients engaging in their recommended treatment plan and a privilege based on the needs of the unit population. Comfort Rooms can be utilized Monday thru Friday and are available in the minimum units. Prior to use, the Treatment Staff will assess each patient based upon their risk and treatment plan compliance and assign them a ‘Privilege Level’. For instance, patients who are designated Privilege Level 1 must maintain medication compliance and behavioral stability, participate in treatment planning, and attend at least one group on or off unit per week in order to utilize the TV, audio station, or projector. Comfort Rooms can be occupied by a maximum of four patients at one time but they must all be assigned to the same privilege level. Similar to Quiet Rooms, Comfort Rooms offer de-escalation items aligned with a patient’s de-escalation track. For example, a patient who benefits from an ‘Expressive’ de-escalation track can access markers, velvet art, and a soft keyboard while a patient who selects a ‘Sensory’ track can access stress balls, aroma therapy, and a Chair Massage topper. Patients who are designated as having the most privileges (Privilege Level 3), are able to utilize the Nintendo 3DS, which is considered an ‘Interactive’ de-escalation track.
Since the creation of the Quiet Rooms in May of 2015 and Comfort Rooms in October of 2015, there has been a 26% reduction in patient seclusion events and a 16% reduction in patient restraint events at BSH (when compared to the same time period in 2014). BSH extends its appreciation to everyone who contributed to the creation of our Quiet and Comfort Rooms and to those staff members who are actively involved in the management of these therapeutic environments for patients.
By Linda Harriman, Domestic Violence Coordinator
Research has shown that domestic violence awareness and police response has undergone fundamental changes through the past 10 years, but at the same time much work remains to be done because domestic violence too often remains the hidden crime committed behind closed doors.
Over the past five years there have been new Massachusetts laws put into place to help victims of domestic violence. These laws contribute to making the “leaving process” easier, because leaving a domestic violence relationship is not easy and statistics tell us that…- it take between 7-11 times a victim will go back to an abuser if the victim is not financial set to leave the relationship; – 48% of victims will not leave, or will return to, a violent relationship due to fear of what might happen to the animal if left behind; – Executive Order 491 states that domestic violence adversely affects employee productivity and causes absenteeism and employee turnover in the workplace.
The following are new laws or changes to currently laws. The long version can be found at www.mass.gov and additional information can be found on the DOC Domestic Violence Office Intranet Page.
2010 – An Act Relative to Harassment Prevention Orders, G.L. c. 258E (“258E”), fills a critical gap in the law by providing victims of criminal harassment, stalking and sexual assault, regardless of their relationship with the defendant, with the ability to obtain harassment prevention orders against their perpetrators. Under G.L. c. 209A (“209A”), only those victims who are family members, reside in the same household, or have a substantial dating relationship with the defendant could obtain a restraining order; the new law has no such requirement. Please note 209A has not been amended and is still in full force and effect.
2012 – An Act Relative to Domestic Violence and Animals. Language from S. 682 was included in S. 2192, which passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor on August 2, 2012, It became effective October 31, 2012. This bill enables the courts to order the protection of an animal through existing specific statutes that authorize restraining orders or orders to vacate or stay away. What this bill does is provides protection for both human and animal victims of domestic violence. The link between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented in both study statistics and stories of abuse. Like children, pets are often used as pawns in domestic violence. Batters abuse animals for a variety of reasons – to demonstrate power and control, to retaliate for acts of independence, to keep a victim silent and to coerce a victim to return to stay in an abusive relationship.
2013 – Law S. 2402, “An Act Relative to Housing Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence, Rape, Sexual Assault and Stalking.” Chapter 402 of the Acts of 2012, amends Chapter 186 of the General Laws by adding seven sections. Victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and stalking have increased rights and protections under a new housing law designed to help them be safer in their apartments or get out of a lease if that is needed to escape a perpetrator.
For the following law, Employment Leave to Address an Abusive Situation, the Department of Correction already has a policy in place, the “103DOC238 Policy for the Prohibition of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Harassment”. This policy is based off the Executive Order 491, and sets precedence for companies in Massachusetts to follow. With the implementation of the new law, there were only minor changes to the department policy and the policy is currently under review.
2014 – Employment Leave to Address an Abusive Situation, M.G.L. c. 149, s52E. relative to Employment Leave for Victims and Family Members of Abusive Behavior for employers who employs 50 or more people in Massachusetts. Employers must provide up to 15 days of paid or unpaid leave for a qualifying employee to seek or obtain medical attention, counseling, victim services or legal assistance; secure housing; obtain a protective order from a court; appear in court or before a grand jury; meet with a district attorney or other law enforcement official; or attend child custody proceedings or address other issues directly related to the abusive behavior against the employee or family member of the employee. To be a “qualifying employee” the employee must be a paid employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or kidnapping or who has a family member who is a victim.
2014 – Bill S.2334 An Act Relative to Domestic Violence, significant changes to domestic violence law, including education for judges and prosecutors, new law and penalties for suffocation and strangulation, and much more.
Domestic violence is a crime, it is also a choice! – No one deserves to be abused! – If you are in an abusive relationship, you are not alone.
If you are in immediate danger, dial 911.
The Domestic Violence Coordinator can be reached at: office: 978-514-6589, cell: 508-963-1853 or through the Duty Station at 508-422-3481 and request the Domestic Violence Coordinator be paged, you do not need to leave your name, just your phone number where you can be reached. CONFIDENTIALITY IS ALWAYS UPHEALD!
Domestic Violence SafeLink – 877-785-2020
National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-SAFE (7233)
National Sexual Assault Hotline – 800-656-HOPE (4673)