MA Prison Commissioner Fired Over Slowing Death Inquiry


Massachusetts prison commissioner Luis Spencer was forced to resign because he delayed an internal investigation into an incident at Bridgewater State Hospital, a prison already under fire for its response to a patient's death at the hands of prison guards, the Boston Globe reports. Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral said the decision to ask for Spencer's resignation was made in part because he “slowed down” the internal affairs inquiry, deepening earlier concerns about his “critical thinking and judgment” throughout his three-year tenure.

A source said the incident involved a correction officer who physically abused a mental health patient in late May. The patient survived the abuse. Cabral said, “This is not only about an incident. It has much more to do with the level of critical thinking and the approach we have to have from any commissioner.” Gov. Deval Patrick had reprimanded the state prison chief this year for failing to act on an internal report that cited three Bridgewater guards for misconduct in the 2009 death of patient Joshua Messier. Spencer will be replaced temporarily by Thomas Dickhaut, the acting deputy commissioner for prisons.

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