Critical Incident Stress Management Training

By Thomas Borden

On February 2nd, 2016, I, along with 30 staff members from all disciplines across the Department of Correction participated in the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation’s training titled Group and Individual Crisis Intervention.  This three-day training taught us how to provide peer support following a critical incident.  Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is a peer-driven, clinically supported model that is utilized to get Public Safety personnel the help they need to overcome the trauma they’ve experienced.  CISM provides staff an opportunity to talk about their incident with a peer staff member in a confidential setting; should further intervention become necessary, the peer can make an appropriate referral.  incident

CISM teams have been operating for two decades among Police, Fire, and EMS departments across the Commonwealth. They can be activated at any time to respond to a traumatic event.  These events often include line of duty death, suicide of a colleague, staff assault, prolonged failed rescue, mass casualty incident, major disorders, and administrative betrayal.  The Department of Correction currently utilizes the Employee Assistance Services Unit (EASU) to respond to critical incidents.

Upon completion of the course, we are certified in Group Crisis Intervention and Assisting Individuals in Crisis.  Although the Department will continue to utilize team members from the EASU to respond to critical incidents, we came away from this training with a better understanding of stress management.   This course supplied me with a base understanding of one of the most essential functions of the EASU and furnished me with skills that will allow me to provide support and assistance to a co-worker should the need arise.Walpole Prison

I would like to thank the EASU for sponsoring this training and Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union (MCOFU) for providing funding.  I would recommend this course to every staff member next time it is available.

Military Peer Support Patriot Award

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.Patriot Award (2)

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.



“Just because inmates are locked-up doesn’t mean no one cares…”

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.  SAIT Participants

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.

MassCor Awarded Printing Contract

For the first time that anyone can recall in the recent past, MassCor or Massachusetts Correctional Industries has been awarded the contract to print Governor Baker’s FY2017 budget recommendations.  Director James Karr is hopeful that MassCor will be able to provide more printing services for offices and agencies throughout the Commonwealth.  MassCor provides products and services while putting inmates to work and teaching them useful skills.  These skills will allow them a better chance for success once they are released from prison and keeps them productive during their incarceration.

For more information about MassCor, their products and services, please visit or call 508-850-1070.masscor_banner

One ‘S.T.E.P.’ closer to Eliminating Seclusion and Restraint at BSH

By James Rioux

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).  Over the past year and one half, BSH embarked on a program of reducing seclusion and restraint in compliance with legal mandates through policy changes in a collaboration between security and clinical staff and external stakeholders to effect this goal by: training in trauma and de-escalation techniques; increasing our crisis coverage; developing individualized de-escalation plans for each patient; and the re-purposing of areas to create therapeutic options on each unit called Quiet Rooms equipped with de-escalation items. One particular BSH program has made tremendous progress in meeting this national safety goal.  The S.T.E.P. (Specialized Treatment and Education Program) has recently published promising results in increasing patient participation in unit and off unit groups, improving patient medication compliance, and ultimately decreasing episodes of patient seclusion and restraint.

S.T.E.P. was originally developed in September 2014 as a Joint Commission initiative to address an identified treatment gap for patients transferring from the maximum and minimum units.  It was discovered through this process that the majority of patients transitioning from maximum to minimum units were unable to effectively manage the routine of living in a dorm setting, attending multiple unit treatment groups, and completing all activities of daily living independently.   S.T.E.P. was created to assist these patients with their transition to less secure units and to less secure settings e.g. Department of Mental Health hospitals, traditional penal settings, and traditional minimum units.

Through a highly individualized and graduated four step incentive program many of the patients who have historically been managed in the maximum units of the hospital are now adjusting to the expectations of the unit team.  As S.T.E.P. patients graduate from one step to the next their incentives increase.  Newly enrolled Step 1 patients who are beginning to learn about the expectations of living in a minimum unit may earn additional outdoor time for demonstrating behavioral control while patients who have graduated to Step 2 will have an opportunity to attend off unit groups, spend more time in the Commons building where leisure and recreational activities are offered, and will spend less time restricted to their unit.  As patients progress through the steps, their expectations increase.  For instance, Step 3 patients will be expected to transition from a single room to a dorm setting, which is typically the most challenging obstacle to overcome and a decision that requires much clinical discussion.   Finally, Step 4 has the highest expectations for patients and resembles a traditional minimum unit experience.  A unique component of Step 4 is the expectation that the patients will become mentors to the newly enrolled S.T.E.P. patients.

According to Dr. James Schrage, Psychologist and Unit Director, the success of the S.T.E.P. program is attributed to the specialty groups offered by a multidisciplinary team of activity therapists, clinicians, and psychologists.  As the patient progresses through the steps more treatment intensive groups are added.  Life Skills, Mindfulness, Competency Restoration, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are just a few of the groups offered to patients that help them to progress through the program. Out of the fourteen patients who have participated in the program to date, seven have been successful in transferring to a less secure setting and only one patient has been returned to a higher security setting. Of the six patients who remain in the program, all have been compliant with their prescribed medication and are engaged in treatment.   Lastly, there has been a 79% reduction in the use of seclusion and restraint in patients enrolled in the program.

The BSH community congratulates Dr. Schrage and his colleagues, for helping patients obtain the skills they need to effectively transition to minimum settings, and for bringing BSH one ‘S.T.E.P.’ closer to meeting our national safety goal.  Dr. Schrage is a Beyond Excellence Award recipient for 2015.

Mental Health Holds

Strategic Goal: Reentry

By David Newmark, CPO A/B

The DOC’s strategic goal #2 is to “Effectively prepare offenders for transition into communities to reduce crime and victimization, reduce recidivism, and promote rehabilitation and reentry.”  On August 26th at MCI-Norfolk, the DOC delivered on this goal with a Reentry Seminar on Financial Literacy.  The Seminar was held for inmates in the CSD Auditorium, and was attended by community experts in the field of Finance as well as over 200 MCI-Norfolk inmates.

Reentry Seminars are held quarterly for inmates, but this one was different.  For this Seminar, inmates were given a survey to determine what they most wanted to hear about regarding reentry.  The #1 topic chosen was Financial Literacy.  CPO Deanna Acquafresca and Director of Treatment Bruce Pires staged the event, which was seen by many attendees as a resounding success.

First among the presenters were Alan Benjamin and Nicholas Nolan from Santander Bank.  They discussed financial issues that many inmates were not familiar with, such as building up a credit history, retirement and investment tips, notary services, and even financing options for those wishing to start their own business.  Did you know that a bank can issue an ID?  Well, it’s true according to the Santander reps.  There were many invaluable tips given to inmates that are coming up on release in regard to assuring their financial security.

Reentry Seminar

Presenters (Left to Right): Nicholas Nolan- Santander Bank, Cletus Thomas- ACCC, Jonathan Hughes- MEFA, Melissa Crehan- MA DOR, and Alan Benjamin- Santander Bank

Other presenters were Jonathan Hughes of the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, who gave inmates several tips on how to go about securing financing for college, and Melissa Crehan from Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Division who lent her expertise on that issue.  There was a question and answer session at the end, where it was apparent that the inmates were engaged in what was being said by the huge line of men asking questions of the presenters.

At the end of the day, both staff and inmates in attendance were enlightened on several issues pertaining to financial literacy.  Much thanks to the staff at MCI-Norfolk who organized this event.  No matter who we are, inmates and staff alike can always learn new things at seminars such as this one.  This writer definitely learned a lot.