Last month, BBA President Mark Smith submitted a letter to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) expressing concerns with the new Department of Corrections policy on prisoner visits currently under consideration. The policy would require visitors to be approved and limit the number of individuals allowed to visit, with those in maximum security being permitted to have no more than five names on their preapproved visitors list, inmates in medium security being permitted to have no more than eight, and inmates in minimum security being permitted to have no more than ten. Incarcerated individuals will be allowed to revise their visiting list twice each year.
The letter expresses an understanding of EOPSS’ efforts to improve safety and reduce substance use in prison and jails, where substance use and addiction rates remain high. However, it also highlights that “[r]esearch clearly indicates that prisoners benefit substantially from the ability to maintain familial, social, and community ties while incarcerated, and thus the opportunity to visit with relatives, friends, community leaders, and others is critical to improving their chances to successfully and productively re-integrate into society upon release.” The letter concludes by seeking a few answers, including the rationale behind the decision to limit the opportunity to change a visitor list to only twice a year, the data and research that was the basis of the new policy, and the specific additional benefits the new policy achieves above the current mandatory search policies.
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association