Under increasing financial pressure, the Massachusetts prison system is weighing close to $100 million in budget cuts that could force widescale layoffs and the closure of several facilites at a time of growing fears over inmate overcrowding, reports the Boston Globe. Harold W. Clarke, commissioner of the Department of Correction, outlined the bleak fiscal scenario at a meeting last week with top prison managers and union leaders.
Clarke said the state is considering closing as many as four prisons and laying off 300 employees. Said a uniion official: “Obviously, we're stunned that the fiscal situation is so egregious that we may be looking at the closure of several facilities in Massachusetts. We believe that public safety is a core mission for Massachusetts government. Period. We can't let bad people out on the street.'' The Patrick administration expects to make preliminary decisions on closings and layoffs next month. The state's 17 prisons are well over capacity, with their population more than tripling over the past two decades to over 11,000.