Dangerous inmates at Massachusetts’ maximum security prison in Walpole are ripping apart the aging facility to arm themselves with lethal weapons that threaten the safety of staff and prisoners, reports the Boston Herald. The “Walpole weapons factory” at the 650-bed penitentiary opened in 1955, is emblematic of a crumbling prison system hampered by antiquated facilities and little public support. “It's like our bridges and tunnels. You can't just let them go and not invest in them and be surprised when they have a problem,” said former Attorney General L. Scott Harshbarger, who led the Governor's Commission on Corrections Reform. “We are spending more money on corrections than on public higher education and what are we getting? People don't want to hear about it. It's not a priority. We only have to wait for some tragedy before we focus on what can be done that's practical, efficient and cheaper.”
During the first half of this year, Walpole officers confiscated 128 weapons from inmates. Those weapons were involved in two attacks on staff in 2006 and one attack on a prison staffer during the first six months of this year. The Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union argues there aren't enough correction officers to conduct the searches necessary to uncover weapons before they are used. Reforms have ridded the prison of weapons made from popular items such as Plexiglas, light fixtures, typewriters, lockers, and toilets.