Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Proposed changes to Massachusetts 103 CMR DOC visitation rights appear to be Unconstitutional.

Old: Anyone can visit.
New: Ten only now, and all are subject to CORI check.

Old: One inmate per facility under the proposed guidelines now
New: Only one per the entire system unless you are “Immediate family,” thus breaking apart close friendships that are tantamount to family to these residents.

Old: Visitors may talk to each other.
New: Under the proposed guidelines visitors may not talk to each other. This strikes me as a form of Unlawful Prior Restraint. Here is a primer on prison communication restrictions, the restrictions that were upheld seem to center largely on security threats, but if the visitors have been scanned for CORI violations and they are cleared, it militates against imposition of the restrictions, yep.

I don't have the time and resources to fight this battle but as the top-ranked Constitutional Law blogger (Masters in Criminal Justice) who has worked for Supermax Prison (ALCU report) Attorney Terry Gilbert, and who is now the first Boston-area blogger to roll video at a murder trial, my Spidey-senses tell me that some of these restrictions -- particularly the last one -- might not pass Constitutional muster. I encourage the ACLU and other prison reform groups to review this matter with all of the earnestness at their command.

Contact Governor Deval Patrick and Mary Beth Heffernan to voice your concerns; feel free to use this link.

1 comment:

  1. I believe prisoners and their families are being punished enough without having visitations, made more complicated and restrictive. There are Judges,today,who were once incarcerated and now have their own Courtrooms on television. If they are now doing this good, why the need for prisoners to be in caged forever now and families to endure so many restrictions and humiliating searches, during visits. Why a Governor and Commissioner, who refuses to meet with families and advocates of incarcerated individuals with serious concerns? This cannot be tolerated any longer.