Category Archives: Chief Counsel’s Office

Women with Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders Will No Longer Be Sent to MCI Framingham – Governor Signs Bill that Gets Women the Treatment They Need and Deserve

A new law will go into effect 90 days after it was signed by Governor Baker on January 25, 2016. This law ends the civil commitment of women with alcohol and substance use disorders to prison.

Chief Counsel Benedetti said, “The practice of sending women to Framingham who are struggling with alcohol and substance use has ended.  This is a tremendous step that will aid many of our clients.  It is also encouraging to see that Massachusetts has come to understand that placing persons with alcohol and substance use disorders in facilities used to house persons convicted of criminal offenses should not and cannot replace those providing treatment services.” 

According to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, “By Feb. 9, fifteen beds at Taunton State Hospital will be available for women under the civil commitment process known as ‘Section 35’.  Twenty-eight new beds have opened at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain, where nurses are still being hired.”  She continued, “There are six women now civilly committed for substance abuse at Framingham who will either move to the hospitals or end their commitment before then.”

A Legislative conference committee is continuing deliberations on the remaining provisions of the Opioid bill from which the new law was generated. 

Related news articles and the Governor’s press release on the matter can be found at:   http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/01/massachusetts_stops_sending_wo.html, http://www.tauntongazette.com/article/20160125/NEWS/160127299, and http://www.mass.gov/governor/press-office/press-releases/fy2016/bill-signed-ending-civil-commitment-at-mci-framingham.html

Thanks to the Unsung Heroes for Keeping us Safe

By Michael A. Cohen   July 04, 2015

As Americans celebrate America’s 239th birthday Saturday, we should pause to thank those who defend and uphold our freedoms every day.

No, I don’t mean the armed forces. They certainly do their part — and their courage and service to the nation is unquestioned. But what about the unsung protectors of freedom? Like, for example, public defenders.

The right to counsel is a fundamental constitutional protection. For those who are arrested and can’t afford a lawyer — as we’ve all heard on countless episodes of “Law & Order’’ — “one will be appointed for you.” More often than not, the lawyer that Americans receive is an underpaid, understaffed defense attorney whose job it is to protect you from the awesome power of the state to take away your liberty. It doesn’t matter if one is guilty or innocent; the right to counsel is sacrosanct and so too is the responsibility of that lawyer to provide the best possible defense. None of this is meant to slight prosecutors, who have the duty of upholding the rule of law, or judges, whose job it is to ensure that the receipt of justice is swift, fair, and without prejudice. But when it comes to defending Americans’ most basic freedom from the state, it’s hard to think of a purer example than public defenders. Continue reading

Agreement Reached on Conditions at Bridgewater State Hospital

An independent monitoring group will open an office inside troubled Bridgewater State Hospital for the next two years to make sure that prison guards and clinicians continue reducing their use of isolation and physical restraints on mentally ill patients, under a deal with the state that averts a lawsuit.
Read entire Globe Article which includes a link to the agreement.