DOC backtracking on MCI-Framingham

The Department of Correction appears to be backtracking on the troubled women’s prison at MCI-Framingham.

In October, when Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins said MCI-Framingham was closing and then later amended his statement to say parts of the facility were being shut down for renovations, the DOC said he was wrong on both counts. The agency said there was no renovation project happening at the facility that would reduce prison beds.

But earlier this month the state’s real estate arm began soliciting construction design firms to see if the Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk and the South Middlesex Correctional Center in Framingham could be remodeled to accommodate inmates from MCI-Framingham.

Source Framingham had the first report on the agency’s shift in thinking and MassLive followed up with a story saying the Department of Correction was taking “preliminary steps” to close MCI-Framingham and move the inmates elsewhere. “The goal would be to move the women by the spring of 2024,” MassLive reported.

According to the government notice seeking construction design firms, the Department of Correction is trying to find out whether Bay State, which is currently occupied by DOC employees, can be converted into a prison for about 200 female inmates from MCI-Framingham in medium and maximum security levels. The study also seeks input on whether South Middlesex, which is adjacent to MCI-Framingham, can be remodeled to serve as a stand-alone facility handling about 125 female detainees in pre-release and minimum security levels.

MCI-Framingham, the only women’s prison in Massachusetts, is in bad shape and it’s unclear whether it will be closed permanently or temporarily. It’s unclear how many inmates are in the facility currently, as a number of them have already been transferred elsewhere.

Lee Unitt, a former inmate, is suing the state, alleging the facility was overcrowded and her living conditions were detrimental to her health. Her lawsuit alleges the temperature in her cell sometimes exceeded 100 degrees and she was exposed to harmful contaminants and poor air quality. A report filed in June 2019 by an inspector from the Department of Public Health found 107 repeat violations.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Legislators are calling on the Baker administration to investigate the state agency that oversees licensing of some 400,000 professionals and tradespeople after a Globe report that the office was not properly screening applicants and granted licenses to people with criminal records, including for sex offenses. (Boston Globe)

State Auditor Suzanne Bump charges in a new report that the Department of Revenue has left “incredibly sensitive” private data of Massachusetts taxpayers vulnerable to cyber attacks. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Quincy city councilors gave the go-ahead Monday night for the city to proceed with the latest phase of a new police headquarters building that officials say will ultimately cost between $100 and $110 million. (Patriot Ledger) 

The surging real estate market has sent the total value of Boston property soaring to $164 billion. (Boston Municipal Research Bureau) Boston officials seek to take advantage, asking the Legislature for approval to assess a tax on real estate transfers valued at more than $2 million. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Immigration and Customs Enforcement asks a federal judge in Massachusetts to lift an injunction and dismiss a lawsuit barring ICE agents from entering courtrooms. (CommonWealth)

Congressman Jim McGovern, who will draft the rules for the impeachment deliberations in the House, wants to facilitate an “orderly and respectful debate,” not a circus. (WGBH)

ELECTIONS

Joe Battenfeld says Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s sweeping criminal justice reform proposal, dubbed The People’s Justice Guarantee, is an insurance policy for President Trump’s reelection should he need to tout it as an example of how far left Democrats have gone. (Boston Herald)

Pollsters and pundits in New Hampshire are dismissing Deval Patrick’s chances to break through in the Democratic presidential contest. (Boston Herald

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Finard Properties of Boston buys the Greendale Mall in Worcester for $7 million with plans to repurpose it, possibly as a mixed-use development. (Telegram & Gazette)

EDUCATION

Three students at UMass Amherst officially drop a lawsuit against the university for hosting a panel on Palestinian rights. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Harvard research fellow Jeff Rawson offers a first-person account of how he nearly died recently from vaping THC cartridges he bought online. (Boston Globe)

ARTS/CULTURE

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford has canceled The Edward Twins performance on May 2 due to their use of blackface. (Standard-Times)

TRANSPORTATION 

Despite concerns raised by Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, members of the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board push ahead for income-based fares. It’s another sign of the growing independence of the appointees of Gov. Charlie Baker. (CommonWealth)

T notes: Machinists hit deplorable work conditions at bus maintenance garages….T backs “revolutionary” Red and Orange line commitment with money….212 people have obtained licenses and identification cards listing their sex as X instead of M or F. (CommonWealth)

Surging sales tax revenues are helping the MBTA keep its operating budget in check. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Roseann Bongiovanni’s non-profit will receive more than $1 million to restore Mystic River wetlands damaged by a 2006 fuel spill, and now she is pushing ExxonMobil to disclose how its nearby facility is prepared for a major storm. (WGBH) 

Municipal utilities on the North Shore helped finance the state’s second largest wind farm atop Brodie Mountain in the Berkshires. (Salem News

CASINOS

Massachusetts casinos continue their sluggish performance, with the Plainridge Park slots parlor having its worst month ever. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Rep. Ayanna Pressley and some women’s advocates are pushing to decriminalize prostitution, but the issue has sharply divided feminists. (Boston Globe

A seven-year battle between the town of Falmouth and local shoreline property owner Janice Smyth has come to an end with the US Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to take one more look at whether the town has to pay Smyth a $1 million penalty set by a Barnstable Superior Court jury. (Cape Cod Times) 

A judge has stripped absentee Easton trailer park owner Robert Morgan of control over the property, after dozens of households are left without adequate water supply for months. (Brockton Enterprise) 

Using genetic databases, detectives in Colorado cracked the decades old murder case of Helene Pruszynski, a Massachusetts woman and aspiring journalist.  (Eagle-Tribune

MEDIA

Many think the political coverage of the New York Times has totally imploded. (Press Watch)