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Massachusetts to launch use of body cameras in prisons

The new initiative aims to increase safety and improve transparency, MADOC said in a statement

Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center

The Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center will be the first in the state to test the technology.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

By Flint McColgan
Boston Herald

LANCASTER, Mass. — Correction officers in at least one maximum-security state prison will sport a new addition to their uniforms this summer — body cameras.

It’s an effort that could “improve operational efficiency and enhance the value of transparency in our institutions,” Terrence Reidy, secretary of the commonwealth’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, said in a statement Thursday.

Correction officers at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster will be the first to test the technology. That’s the same prison that former New England Patriot and convicted killer Aaron Hernandez killed himself at in 2017.

The program aims to “enhance communication and collaboration” among Department of Correction staff, improve interactions between staff and inmates, and “strengthen transparency and accountability,” according to a government press release. The body cameras will complement the facility’s “comprehensive network” of stationary cameras.

This follows a January 2020 incident in which some inmates of the facility’s Northside — where “security threat groups” are housed — “seriously assaulted officers in a housing unit,” according to court documents. Following the attack, inmates claimed in a lawsuit that during the subsequent days-long lockdown, they had been denied access to their legal documents and their lawyers.

The Department of Correction had refuted the inmates’ claims, according to previous Herald reporting. Justice Beverly Cannone of the state Superior Court ruled in favor of the inmates on Feb. 28, 2020.

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