Exchanging COs For Clinicians, Mass. Makes Changes To Involuntary Addiction Treatment In Prison

Correction officers will no longer be in charge of men involuntarily committed to addiction treatment at the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center (MASAC) at the state prison in Plymouth. The Baker administration said MASAC is undergoing a “comprehensive transformation.”

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, which oversees the prison, said that as of last month, correction officers will maintain the perimeter of the facility and clinical staff work inside. EOPSS said clinically trained, non-uniformed staff will provide supervision and deliver more hours of programming each day.

“The transition reflects the facility’s core mission to provide treatment, and it significantly expands therapeutic and programming options available to our patients during a safe, structured, medically-monitored detoxification,” said EOPPS spokesman Jake Wark.

In 2017, the Baker administration started using the Plymouth prison for men committed to addiction treatment under the state law known as Section 35. If a judge determines that an individual’s substance use poses a danger to that person or others, that person can be sent to locked treatment — and sometimes that means to a jail or prison. MASAC is one of two correctional facilities in Massachusetts where courts can send men who are involuntarily committed to treatment; The other is the Hampden County jail in Ludlow.

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