Only 6 guards affected by ‘unauthorized memo’
Low number raises questions about author’s motivation
AN UNAUTHORIZED and now rescinded memo initiating a moratorium on suspensions and disciplinary hearings for correction officers to ease staffing concerns during the current coronavirus crisis would have only affected six guards in the state’s prisons, according to the Department of Correction.
The low number – the state has a total of 3,500 correction officers — raises questions why Michael G. Grant Sr., a deputy commissioner at the Department of Correction, wrote the memo in the first place.
A spokesman for the agency confirmed Grant is currently employed. The Boston Globe reported Grant was suspended, but DOC officials would not confirm that, saying the agency does not comment on discipline and personnel issues.
It’s also unclear why Corrections Commissioner Carol Mici took 24 hours to disavow Grant’s memo and declare the agency’s policies on disciplinary actions and suspensions unchanged.
“Any situations that are of an egregious nature or require immediate action will be handled on a case by case basis,” Grant, the former superintendent at Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk, wrote in the memo that was posted, and later removed, from the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union website. Officials at the correction officers union had been seeking passage of legislation that would incentivize members to stay home if they felt sick. No one from the union returned a call for comment Thursday.
Department of Correction officials, already under fire over allegations of abusing and mistreating inmates at the state’s maximum security prison in Shirley, initially declined to answer questions regarding the memo. As criticism and concern mounted from a number of quarters on Wednesday, Mici, in a harshly written memo of her own, rescinded Grant’s order, “which was drafted and distributed without my knowledge or approval.” DOC officials declined to say if Grant had the power to issue such policy changes on his own.“In order to eliminate any confusion caused by that unauthorized memo, I would like to convey explicitly to all personnel that the Department of Correction’s disciplinary policy has not changed and that standard operating procedures will continue,” she wrote.
The initial memo caused alarm among a number of groups, including inmate advocacy organizations, the ACLU, and Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins.