Minutes from 1/4 Meeting

Commissioners Present:

  • Chair Day
  • Chair Brownsberger
  • Commissioner Widmer
  • Commissioner Forman
  • Commissioner Joy
  • Commissioner Preston
  • Commissioner Coppinger
  • Commissioner Hodgson
  • Commissioner Morton
  • Commissioner Keefe
  • Commissioner Ashe
  • Commissioner Whelan

Commissioners Absent:

  • Commissioner Fattman
  • Commissioner Cowdell
  • Commissioner Dolan
  • Commissioner Crowley
  • Commissioner Cook
  • Commissioner Spina
  • Commissioner Horgan

Chair Day gave introductory remarks and reviewed the agenda for the meeting. Roll was taken.

Chair Day entertained a motion to approve minutes from the December 20, 2021, meeting. Chair Brownsberger moved and Commissioner Keefe seconded. Passed unanimously.

The Commission opened discussion to public testimony and heard from:

Marlene Pollock, Annetta Smith, Rhonda Barrett, members of the Coalition for Social Justice/ Bristol County for Correctional Justice.

Elizabeth Matos, Executive Director of Prisoners Legal Services

John Bookston

John E. Bowman, Jr of the Massachusetts Access to Justice

Rachel Roth

Kit Haines

Mary Valerio of the Actual Justice Task Team of the United Church of Christ in Clinton, MA

Norma Wassel of the National Association of Social Workers

Michael Cox Executive Director of Black and Pink Massachusetts

Rhonda Barrett

Cassandra Bensahih

Jonathan Tetherly

Concerns regarding the cost of calls, the frequency of dropped calls, and the effectiveness of tablets for communication were discussed. Issues of sanitation in jails and prisons were raised.

Inmate healthcare was repeatedly addressed with testimony explaining that sick inmates are frequently denied treatment or the ability to visit a doctor. Testimony was given that inmates with diabetes and other such illnesses were unable to receive adequate care when staying in prison.

Data regarding the commission was brought into question. Issues about reporting by correctional officials to the restrictive housing committee were voiced. Concerns about data available on the Commission website were also raised, with examples given about faulty links, missing reports, and unclear data.

Chair Day gave closing remarks and thanked those who gave testimony.

The Commission scheduled the next meeting for Thursday, January 11, 2022 at 11AM.

Chair Day entertained a motion to adjourn the meeting. Chair Brownsberger moved, Commissioner Whelan seconded. The meeting ended.

The Commission set its next meeting for Thursday, January 11, 2022 at AM but then subsequently moved the time of the meeting to accommodate unforeseen conflicts to 12:30pm.

Written testimony submitted to the Commission may be viewed here.