Suicides in Massachusetts state prisons are occurring at a rate more than four times the national average this year, prompting advocates and inmates' relatives to call for an urgent response from state officials, says the Boston Globe. The administration of Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday hired a suicide prevention specialist.
With the discovery of an eighth inmate found hanging in his cell yesterday, Massachusetts prisons have reached a suicide rate of about 71 per 100,000 inmates so far this year, more than quadruple the average annual national rate of 16 per 100,000 inmates reported by the U.S. Bureau for Justice Statistics. Leslie Walker of Boston-based Prisoners' Legal Services, said the state should rehire the suicide prevention specialist, Lindsay Hayes who worked on a plan for the Correction Department in 2007. A spokeswoman for the prison system said the department had indeed rehired Hayes, project director for the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, and asked him to examine each recent suicide.