“Breakdowns” In Ma. Prisons Led To Geoghan Death


Massachusetts prison officials allowed John J. Geoghan to be targeted for abuse and unfounded disciplinary reports before transferring the defrocked priest without basis to the maximum-security prison where he was killed, a state investigation has found, the Boston Globe reports.

A 125-page report issued yesterday blames “major administrative breakdowns” for the events that led officials to transfer the frail Geoghan from one prison to another, where he ended up in the same unit as Joseph Druce, a convicted murderer and one of the prison system’s best known troublemakers. Druce is charged with killing Geoghan on Aug. 23. The report focuses mostly on the actions of management and guards and discusses the actions of only one official in the correction commissioner’s office. The names of all guards were blacked out in the report.

Edward A. Flynn, the state public safety secretary who appointed the panel that wrote the report, said that “if current policies and procedures were followed, 95 percent of what went wrong on Aug. 23 could have been avoided.” He forwarded the report to the attorney general’s office for possible criminal prosecution.

Flynn apologized to Geoghan’s sister, Catherine T. Geoghan, who had said she hoped the review would result in changes to the prison system. Flynn said he has directed Kathleen M. Dennehy, the acting corrections commissioner, to “conduct a thorough review of this report and use it as a blueprint for future reform.” He added: “There appears to be a gap between what the department says it does and what it actually does. The [department] has the opportunity to learn from this crime and enact significant system improvements.”

Link: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2004/02/04/geoghan_report_faults_prison/

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