Supplemental Training Solutions for CCRS Employees

By Carol Thomas

Despite the unexpected request for an extensive training initiative, the remarkably talented Division of Staff Development instructors developed a unique training program for the training staff of Correct Care Recovery Solutions (CCRS).

The training consisted of a three-day program, held on-site at Bridgewater State Hospital, August 30th, August 31st and September 1st. Each day was devoted to teaching general procedural skills which also included hands-on experience.

We believe that the success of this program could be a model for other non-security entities that are responsible for “persons served”. Our array of cutting-edge techniques is steeped in extensive experience gained from working with hundreds of offenders at all levels.

ccrs3We are confident that the facilitation of this positive training experience will help CCRS to achieve their goals while serving their population and strengthening the skills of their staff.

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MCI Norfolk Presents: Nate Solder & Matthew Slater of the 2017 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots

By Michael Sullivan

On Friday, July 21, 2017, MCI Norfolk hosted two members of the 2017 New England Patriots Super Bowl LI championship team.  New England Patriots players Nate Solder (Offensive Tackle) and Matthew Slater (Wide Receiver/ Special Teams) conducted a “Motivation Session” with MCI Norfolk inmates.  During the event, topics of discussion were motivation, religion, and overcoming adversity and hardships. The guest speakers shared their own real life stories, leading to their most recent 2017 Super Bowl victory. The New England Patriots had trailed 3-28 in the third quarter, but rallied to make the largest comeback in Super Bowl history to win Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. In addition to the game featuring the largest comeback ever, it also featured the first overtime in Super Bowl history.

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Upon completion of the presentation, inmates were afforded the opportunity to conduct a question and answer period with the two guests.  Everyone really showed genuine appreciation for the special appearance and thanked the guests for their dedication, care and commitment that they showed to the community.

Shakedown at MCI-Norfolk

The DOC’s Special Operations Response Unit conducted a facility wide contraband search that began on June 19th and ended on June 23rd.

This type of search requires an enormous amount of planning as it requires the facility to be locked down, but at a prison as unique as MCI-Norfolk, it’s nearly impossible to conduct a typical lock down due to the type of housing units and operational requirements.

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MCI-Norfolk inmates eat in their housing units and the food is delivered to the units through a series of tunnels and dumb waiters.  In addition the cell doors in most of the units aren’t typically locked, so it’s more difficult to restrict inmate movement and the special operations officers rely on the facility officers to maintain security so that the search can be conducted in a safe and effective manner.

In order to search a facility the size of Norfolk, it takes a number of days and a lot of resources.  Inmates are thoroughly searched, mattresses and other property is passed through a fluoroscope machine and x-rayed, and anything that can be moved, disassembled or crawled into is searched by special operations team members.  Hand held metal detectors are used to search yard and garden areas for weapons and other contraband.  Tactical K-9 officers utilize drug and cell phone detection dogs to search offices, cells and common areas for contraband.

As a result of the comprehensive search, MCI-Norfolk is a safer facility.  Often when inmates realize that a shakedown is occurring, they will destroy or flush contraband down the toilet, so as not to have it discovered in their possession.  Either way, the results are the same, because the contraband is removed from the facility.  There were a number of weapons, drugs and other contraband discovered during the search.  RJS_1385

One of the more interesting finds was the discovery of books of stamps that had been hidden in canteen items.  Stamps can be used as currency inside the prison and can be turned in for cash on a number of websites such as www.cash4urstamps.com.  These sites offer cash for certain types of postage stamps.  Forever stamps are typically the most valuable.  Large caches of stamps are sometimes used to settle gambling or drug debts among prisoners.

These types of shakedowns are not done often because they are resource intensive, but they do serve as an important tool for running safe and secure prisons.  Kudos to all the staff that helped to make this search a success.

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Dangerous Weapons in Prison

While any weapon that is manufactured in prison is dangerous, weapons which can avoid detection are among the most dangerous.  Hardened plastic weapons are extremely dangerous because they can avoid detection by metal detectors that are deployed strategically throughout our prisons.  We are often asked how we can’t detect when inmates are making these type of weapons.  I’m going to share a brief primer on how they’re made.  No worries, we aren’t giving inmates any knowledge that they aren’t already aware of.  These weapons have been recovered for years throughout many facilities.

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Here is how they’re made.  First you need a source of plastic, one of the most common sources is the clear portable radios that inmates can purchase in the canteen.

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Next you need a heat source.  Many inmates are extremely resourceful, to get a flame, they form a paper clip into a “U” shape and stick the ends of the paper clip into an electrical outlet, where the paper clip forms the “U” shape, they put a ball of toilet paper and the current passing through the toilet paper ignites it.  They pull the cardboard middle out of a roll of toilet paper and pull the middle of the paper up to form a cone shape.  They light the top of the cone shape on fire and it burns like a concentrated flame.  They often balance the lit toilet paper roll on the edge of the stainless toilet seat, so that if they need to get rid of the evidence quickly, it can be extinguished and flushed in seconds.

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Next they need to form the weapon.  Typically, they will put a couple of pairs of socks on their hands to act as gloves if they don’t have gloves.  Then it’s just a matter of forming the radio or other plastic into a tubular shape, which can be done fairly quickly.  Once it’s in a compressed tubular shape and the plastic cools, it becomes very hard.  They rub the shape on the cement floor to form a point and often add a handle with a strap that can be put around their wrist so that the weapon can’t be easily taken away.

The dangerous plastic weapon is sometimes made more dangerous by rubbing fecal matter into the tip.  That would certainly increase the risk for infection.  There are many challenges in a correctional setting and corrections officers need to be vigilant while conducting their rounds and looking for the remnants of materials used to create these weapons.

 

A Christmas Carol at MCI Framingham

On Thursday, December 8th, 2016, nearly 100 inmates at MCI-Framingham were transported back in time by Mr. Al LePage.  Al LePage is a performer who’s appeared on many stages all over the world, but on Thursday afternoon, he made his appearance in Framingham.

Mr. LePage contacted Superintendent Allison Hallett about the possibility of performing his one-person reading of the Dickens classic Christmas Carol.  Allison was happy to host him and he graciously lent his talents to the women who are incarcerated at MCI-Framingham for an afternoon.

Al did all of the character voices and was extremely animated during his presentation.  He did a masterful job of painting a portrait of London in the 1800’s.  His personality truly made the reading memorable and he was rewarded with enthusiastic applause after nearly every scene.

We’d like to thank Al LePage for sharing his talents during the holiday season and brightening the day for the women who attended his performance.

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Performance Measures and the DOC

The Massachusetts Department of Correction Performance Measures Division is a team of three lead by Director Diane Silva. Diane along with Gail Simms, Senior Performance Measures Analyst and Ana Rosas, Performance Measures Coordinator studies and analyzes critical prison incidents so as to improve performance and maximize the safety of staff and inmates. The division collects data for standards relating to public safety, institutional safety, substance abuse, mental health services, justice, academic education, health care and fiscal. The data, once validated by the division, is entered into a nation-wide data base developed by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA). Data is compiled on nearly 200 key indicators that were nationally determined to be useful across correctional agencies and is used to inform staff so that data driven decisions can be made about critical prison operations.

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Recently, the DOC was recognized by ASCA for achieving “Blue” status. The levels of ASCA participation are color coded with blue being the highest level to be achieved. Massachusetts is one of only eleven states to receive this recognition. This accomplishment was noted in the “Corrections Directions” newsletter. In August, 2016, the Commissioner was presented with a plaque commemorating this milestone.

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While the Performance Measures Division staff collects and analyzes the data, many staff contributes data to the division on a timely basis which has led to the agency going “Blue”. Much appreciation goes to the staff listed below:

Gail Simms– Performance Measures Division

Cara Savelli– Formerly Performance Measures Division

Ana Rosas– Performance Measures Division

Gina Papagiorgakis– Research and Planning

Sue McDonald– Research and Planning

Eve Gaeta -Legal Division

Matthew Moniz– Reentry Services Division

Kelly Paquin – Reentry Services Division

Sue Staves– Division of Inmate Education and Training

Marcia Gannon –Division of Inmate Training and Education

Sue Dionne– Internal Affairs Unit

Ana Alves– Division of Human Resources

Mary Beth Lees– Health Services Division

Rina Filtzer– Boston Pre Release Center

Laurie Cormier– Bridgewater State Hospital

Mark Hobart– Lemuel Shattuck Hospital

Michael Dantuono– Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center

Eugene Benevides– Massachusetts Treatment Center

Haydee Pineda– MCI- Cedar Junction

Mark Smith– MCI- Concord

Tracie Mucciarone– MCI-Framingham

Michelle Ciccketti– MCI- Norfolk

Pam Rogers- MCI- Plymouth

Lorna Schwartz– MCI-Shirley

Luis Melendez– North Central Correctional Institution

Thomas Galvin – Northeastern Correctional Center

Michelle Molinari– Old Colony Correctional Center

Judy Bisio– Pondville Correctional Center

Peter Rice– South Middlesex Correctional Center

Lindsey Brewer– Souza Baranowski Correctional Center

Diane Bartlett – Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Health (MPCH)

Rebecca Hall– Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Health (MPCH)

Eileen Pereira– Division of Human Resources

Pat Lesperance– Budget Office

B.S.H. Staffers Meet Their Match During P.R.H.C. Wheelchair Football Game

By James Rioux

November 8th, 2016-Canton

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do” ~ Coach John Wooden.bshbasketball

Back Row-Left to Right: Tammy Duarte (MTC), Denise Vega, David Duarte,

Daniel Calis, Robert Blood, Allen Clang

Middle Row-Left to Right: Tina Anthony, David Brouillette, Michael Rosano,

Donald Dufresne, Steve Kennedy

Former basketball player and NCAA coach John Wooden holds the record for most consecutive champions won, at an astounding seven.  But, what is most notable about this coach is not his record but his advice.  Wooden coached with overarching positivity and a “can do” mantra that all coaches, and players strive for. The Pappas Rehabilitation School also subscribes to a similar philosophy, and the Department of Correction is honored to play a small role in putting it into practice.   For nearly a decade the Department of Correction has shared a special bond with the children and staff of the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children (PRHC), formerly the Massachusetts Hospital School.  There is a healthy competition of “can do” on the courts of the campus where patients of the Hospital compete against Department of Correction staff in various sporting events.  From football to basketball, the players have a connection that is rooted in a genuine interest in building meaningful partnerships outside of their community, sharing their love for friendly competition, and most importantly following the “can do” way of living.

PRHC is a pediatric chronic care hospital for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 8-22.  Their mission is to provide medical, rehabilitative, educational, recreational, transitional, and complementary alternative medical services to children and young adults with multiple disabilities, assisting them to achieve their optimal level of independence in all aspects of life.  The games are an integral part of the independence of the children.  It is often said “sports do not build character, they reveal it”.  This can be seen firsthand at PRHC.

Superintendent Daniel Calis who has been volunteering at the school since the games were first established, states that this community outreach initiative has grown into a competitive but friendly rivalry between our two agencies.  Calis states he feels “fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing experience.  There is a brotherhood and camaraderie between the players that cannot be described.   It’s a really special thing.” Through the years, Superintendent Calis and his staff have competed in different types of wheelchair sporting events including football, basketball, and hockey.

Brian, 21, who has been a student at the school for many years and is living with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills states he looks forward to the competitive matchups with the DOC.  In the wheelchair football game held at the school on Tuesday, November 8th, Brian played on both sides of the ball (offense and defense) making key stops on the court and scoring a touchdown in the 35-35 tie.  Brian, like his classmates, is an excellent example of persistence and overcoming adversity- Brian has the can do attitude.

Brian Devin, PRHC CEO describes the partnership with the DOC as significant in the lives of these children, noting how the kids “light up” when they see members of a correctional agency challenge them on their home court.  Devin can see the impact that sporting events and feeling like a part of team does for his students.  “Every child wants to be part of team, to compete, to be a player at some point.  These games give the kids that chance.” He extends his appreciation to the DOC for playing such a vital role in his students’ lives and for participating in the experiences that reveal their “can do” potential.

If you are a parent or guardian of a disabled child, adolescent, or young adult and are interested in learning more about the services PRHC can provide, Mr. Devin invites you to call him directly at 781-830-8427.  You can also find PRHC on the web at www.mhsf.us.  If you are employed by the DOC and would like to participate at an upcoming PRHC event or would like to learn more information about the PRHC, contact Tina Anthony at 508-279-4511.  If you would like to make a donation to the school checks can be made payable to MHSF at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children 3 Randolph St. Canton, MA 02021.  The PRHC also accepts donations of prom clothing for their annual prom.  Donations can be dropped off at the above address.

DOC Welcomes Two New Food Service Directors

We are pleased to announce that Kevin Zona has been hired as the Food Service Director at MCI Concord.

Kevin is an excellent communicator with superb interpersonal and organizational skills.  Prior to accepting this position, Kevin served as the owner and operator of two successful catering services and restructured a bar / eatery into a full service Italian restaurant. He developed the largest outside dining area on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA.  Kevin brings experience and a proven track record of success in the area of overseeing all aspects of food service including effectively staying within budget, managing inventory and zonapurchasing, which will be invaluable in meeting the goals and objectives here at the DOC.  Kevin has also lectured students at the Bridge of Central Massachusetts relative to proper food preparation.  We are confident that Kevin is an excellent match for this position and a strong asset to the DOC.

Kevin graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island with a degree in Culinary Arts.

 

We are also  pleased to welcome Matthew Strauss as our Food Director for the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center.

Matt comes to the DOC with over 15 years of experience in the tourism, convention and visitor industry with a primary focus on sales, marketing, financial and operational objectives within large organizations.  He has interfaced with both public and private institutions consisting of heavy interaction with both state and local officials as wstraussell as governmental agencies such as the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Matt received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Food Service Management from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

 

Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators conducts toy drive

On Tuesday September 6, 2016 members of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women  Legislators visited MCI Framingham to donate toys collected from a toy drive at the State House to benefit the children of justice involved women at MCI – Framingham and South Middlesex Correctional Center.   State Representatives, Christine Barber (Medford/Somerville), Mary Keefe (Worcester) and Kay Khan (Newton) along with members of their staff delivered the toys and met with Superintendent Allison Hallett and key members of the staff at MCI Framingham and South Middlesex Correctional Center along with Family Preservation Staff and several incarcerated women to receive the generous donation. The toys have been distributed to the visiting rooms at both sites and the Family Reunification House at SMCC.

BSH Companion Program

By James Rioux

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An Inmate Companion provides guidance to a visually impaired patient during NAMI walk

Over the past few years a select group of inmate workers incarcerated at Bridgewater State Hospital (BSH) have volunteered their time to provide companionship and support to civilly committed patients.

The ‘Companion Program’ was first developed by former BSH Deputy Superintendent of Patient Services and current Superintendent of MCI Pondville Pamela MacEachern, based on a compelling need to assist those patients who continued to experience difficulty meeting their individual treatment goals despite receiving increased clinical support.  Treatment goals consist of improving personal hygiene, improving social and communication skills, increasing attendance in therapy, program, recreation, and leisure activities.

Inmate Companions are carefully screened by a multidisciplinary team of professionals which include the Deputy of Patient Services, IPS Team, Unit Psychologist, and Chaplain.  When approved, companions participate in a comprehensive training program where they will learn how to effectively communicate with patients living with mental illness and will learn how to maintain appropriate boundaries.  Inmate Companions also receive weekly supervision and support from clinical and security staff.  Although Inmate Companions do not provide any clinical services or treatment they do play a significant role in providing patients with the skills needed to tolerate and thrive in less secure settings i.e. minimum security housing units, traditional penal facilities, and facilities managed by the Department of Mental Health.

Patients and their Inmate Companions can frequently be seen exercising in the gymnasium, listening to music in the clubhouse, or reading in the library.  Inmate Companions also facilitate smaller groups for patients including: Music, Arts & Crafts, Bingo, and Horticulture.   Of the fourteen inmates who are currently enrolled in the Companion program, ten are serving either 1st or 2nd degree life sentences.  Although there may have been some apprehension in allowing ‘lifers’ to assist patients at BSH in the early going, Denise McDonough, Deputy Superintendent of Patient Services for BSH states, “the Companion Program has provided them opportunities to contribute to the hospital community and community at large in a positive and meaningful way.  For instance, one of the patients who has required maximum security housing placement since his commitment to BSH several years ago due to his assaultive history, is now socializing more with others and participating in off unit recreational and leisure activities without incident.   His progress can only be attributed to the combined efforts of security and clinical staff and to our inmate companions,” McDonough explained.

Since BSH staff has developed individualized de-escalation plans for each patient, re-purposed areas to create therapeutic environments on each unit called Quiet Rooms and Comfort Rooms, and formalized the supportive role of inmates via the Companion Program, BSH has become a safer more stabilizing environment for patients in need of enhanced clinical services and support.