Video chats for inmates and their loved ones as an alternative to staff-intensive family visits is one of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s envelope-pushing ideas for streamlining state and county corrections that the president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association said he commends, reports the Boston Herald. “I applaud him for attempting to shift the paradigm of how we deliver corrections services. We need to think outside the box,” Norfolk Sheriff Michael Bellotti said.
Patrick's $550 million Corrections Master Plan, estimated by his administration to cost as much as $2.3 billion to fulfill by 2020, will be rolled out today. Yesterday, the Herald reported he wanted to build up to three secure assisted-living centers for elderly inmates. Two sheriffs objected to lavishing luxury on aged convicts, adding it could entice hard-luck oldsters to commit crimes. “I've heard some of the wisecracks that are out already, and I don't make much of them,” Patrick retorted. Secretary of Public Safety Mary Elizabeth Heffernan defended the plan, saying any notion “luxurious accommodations” would be constructed for geriatric jailbirds “is simply not true.” The plan relies on DOC and sheriffs agreeing to share resources, such as van-pooling inmates to court.