- Massachusetts Department of Correction
- Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
Media Contact for DOC Announces Initial Steps Toward Elimination of Restrictive Housing
Jason Dobson, Deputy Director of Communications
MILFORD — The Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) today announced its intention to eliminate restrictive housing across its agency facilities over a multi-year process. The decision followed an independent assessment from Falcon Correctional and Community Services Inc., which the DOC commissioned to study its existing system and explore alternatives to restrictive housing in Massachusetts.
Since Spring 2020, Falcon engaged 200 stakeholders who provided feedback that informed a comprehensive review process. The group included 100 incarcerated individuals across the agency, a group of formerly incarcerated people who participated through an arrangement with Prisoners’ Legal Services, DOC employees, members of the Restrictive Housing Oversight Committee and members of the Legislature. During workgroups, focus groups, individual meetings, public hearings and site visits, Falcon gathered information which informed its recommendations.
The Department invited Falcon to complete the study to help inform its approach to addressing restrictive housing. In its report, Elevating the System: Exploring Alternatives to Restrictive Housing, Falcon makes 11 recommendations to enhance the current system. Specifically, the report includes recommendations for DOC to develop a comprehensive implementation schedule; eliminate restrictive housing as currently defined; dissolve the Department Disciplinary Unit; assess clinical and criminogenic needs of disruptive individuals; and expand services, treatments, and programming that demonstrate success. DOC plans to implement the recommendations over a three-year period, and today, 7 of the 11 recommendations are currently in progress.
By taking these steps toward the elimination of restrictive housing, DOC is building on a strong record of leadership in corrections. The Falcon report notes that DOC “has long been a leader in correctional policy and practice across the United States. Worthy of specific attention in this regard was the use of technology and data we witnessed during the study. The community-facing image of DOC represented on its website, including an extensive series of user-friendly dashboards, and easy access to research statistics and reports is exemplary.”
“This comprehensive review process was guided by input from a wide range of stakeholders, and the recommendations have put the Massachusetts Department of Correction on a path to eliminating restrictive housing across the system.” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas Turco. “I commend Commissioner Mici and her team who have led the DOC with a deep sense of obligation and pride in carrying out its mission.”
Falcon assembled an independent team of world-class professionals to assess DOC’s use of restrictive housing and associated programs, and to recommend improvements. The team leading the review process included a wide range of experts in areas including medical and behavioral health, administration, management of criminogenic risk, large-scale system assessment, leadership, and organizational change.
To address disruptive behavior in a more meaningful way, DOC will focus on identifying the behavioral and clinical criminogenic needs of those within the Department’s care. Guided by this assessment, these individuals will be placed on tracks to connect them with appropriate programming and treatment opportunities. Falcon’s continued engagement will ensure that DOC develops programmatic tracks that align with the needs of individuals across the system.
“The Department of Correction has worked hard to develop creative solutions to the challenge of restrictive housing, Falcon’s independent analysis is a crucial step toward long-term, lasting change,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Carol Mici. “While this report offers us a detailed roadmap, our continued relationship with Falcon will strengthen our ability to deliver the best correctional practices.”
“This is an extraordinary step forward, and sets an example for other states also considering this important change in corrections,” said Dr. Elizabeth M. Falcon, CEO and Founder of Falcon Inc. “Our colleagues in the Massachusetts DOC are working to significantly improve the lives and well-being of the people within its facilities, as well as the staff and professionals who provide services. We look forward to partnering in the implementation of these recommendations in the coming weeks and months.”
As the three-year implementation continues, Falcon will ensure that all DOC systematic changes remain aligned with their recommendations. In the coming months, DOC will carefully develop policy and procedures, budget to ensure resources support programming, and create performance indicators to measure the success of each track. Ultimately, every step of this reform will enhance the health and well-being of those entrusted to our care.
A link to the full Falcon report can be accessed here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/falcon-report/download