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THE MASSACHUSETTS Department of Correction will have to completely transform the mental health care it provides to inmates, under a settlement the department reached with the US Department of Justice on Tuesday.  

More than two years ago, the Justice Department issued a scathing report finding that the Department of Correction violated its constitutional obligations by failing to provide adequate mental health services to prisoners. This settlement resolves that investigation in the final days of Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration. It will be up to Gov.-elect Maura Healey to implement the recommendations. 

“As prosecutors, we have a duty to enforce criminal laws which can result in sending people to carceral facilities. We also have a duty to ensure that once someone is incarcerated and in the custody and control of a state, local or federal government, that they receive constitutional treatment and adequate mental and physical health care,” said US Attorney Rachael Rollins in a statement. “Our investigation found unconstitutional conditions and circumstances where incarcerated people in mental health crisis harmed themselves up to and including suicide.” 

Rollins said the settlement agreement includes what she called innovative solutions.  “With these innovations, we intend for Massachusetts to become the gold standard in mental health supervision and treatment for incarcerated individuals,” Rollins said.  

DOC Commissioner Carol Mici said in a statement, “The Department has been diligent, transparent, and cooperative with the DOJ to advance our shared goal of improving mental health care for those experiencing a mental health crisis. We remain deeply committed to the health and well-being of all entrusted to our care while ensuring the protection of their physical safety and civil rights.”  

The 2020 investigation identified numerous instances of prisoners harming themselves while on mental…

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