WEST BOYLSTON, Mass. - There's a push on Beacon Hill to stop the construction of new prison facilities and instead use those funds for programming to help inmates.
State Sen. Jo Comerford's proposal would put a five-year moratorium on jail and prison construction. She said the passage of the prison moratorium would provide officials with a "pause" to examine strategies to reduce the state's prison and jail footprint.
Inmates testified at a hearing earlier this week, saying they don't need a new facility, they need support for rehabilitation and reentry resources.
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis criticized the proposal, saying new facilities also play a role in helping inmates.
“The state of Massachusetts has a lot of money, they’re looking for ways to spend it, and to say ‘no’ to the construction to assist people who are incarcerated, who need the services, I can’t use a facility that was built in 1970 for modern programming,” Evangelidis said. “I need to have the right classrooms, the right substance treatment, the right medical, the right mental health facilities, and that takes modern facilities.”
Last year, former Gov. Charlie Baker struck a moratorium plan from a nearly $5.2 billion general bond bill and state Democrats left themselves no time under their rules to try and overturn his veto.