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Spotlight On MCI Concord
By Mass. Department of Correction
Published: 02/06/2010

Mci concord Editors Note: The following is reprinted from "Around the Block" Jan 2010, Mass DOC News Letter

The History of MCI Concord
By Rachel Goguen, Ph.D.

MCI Concord is a medium security facility which had been designated by the Department as the state’s Reception and Diagnostic Center until June 2009. In June 2009, the Reception and Diagnostic Center moved from MCI Concord to MCI Cedar Junction and MCI Concord was designated as a medium security facility. MCI Concord continues to house those inmates who are awaiting trial, also known as the 52A population. With a design capacity of 654, the average daily inmate population is between 11001300 inmates.

In 1853, the Legislature voted to build a new prison facility to replace the aging Charlestown State Prison. Construction began in 1873, and in May 1878, a new facility was opened in Concord with General Chamberlain, a Mexican war veteran, as Warden.

On May 21, 1884, Governor George Robinson signed a bill ordering the return of prisoners to Charlestown State Prison and established the Massachusetts Reformatory at Concord. The institution became a comprehensive school where "boys" under 30 years of age could learn a trade to be used upon their reentry into the community.

To address overcrowding problems, construction in 1893 added 230 cells to the existing facility. In 1955, by virtue of the Chapter 770 Acts, the Concord Reformatory along with its maximum age limit of 30 was eliminated, and the facility was renamed the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord. A building program to replace the entire institution began in 1964. The majority of existing buildings were opened from 1966 through 1978.

In July 1989, construction was completed on Phase I of "JBuilding." This portion of the project added 240 cells to MCI Concord. In October 1989, construction began on Phase II of "JBuilding." This portion of the building project, which became operational in 1992, provides program and treatment facilities that are utilized by staff for classification hearings, mental health appointments, parole hearings and immigration issues.

In November 1995, new construction began at MCI Concord to once again attempt to alleviate overcrowding. In May 1996, the Modular Unit, a dormitory style building capable of housing 140 inmates, was opened. This new unit would eventually be designated to house MCI Concord’s Permanent Work Force inmates.

In 1999, as part of its effort to achieve accreditation from the American Correctional Association (ACA), the State of Massachusetts and the Department of Correction approved and implemented a large capital outlay project designed to correct structural deficiencies at MCI Concord.

The project included the upgrading of the old fashioned "crankstyle" doors in CBuilding, adding showers to both C and E buildings, installing a new roof for the inmate dining hall (DBuilding), remodeling the facility’s existing Special Management Unit (SMU), reworking LBuilding into two dormitory style housing units which provided for 164 additional beds, and converting the facility’s power plant to use the new efficient "low pressure" steam system instead of the old "high pressure" system.

MCI Concord is settling into its new role of a medium security facility. The programming aspect has greatly increased to include a wider variety of education and substance abuse programs, including the Correctional Recovery Academy Program. Work assignments have significantly increased as well. MCI Concord continues to transition with the new mission change.

MCI Concord Recycling
By Gary Halfrey, Storekeeper III
and Debra Moschos, Treasurer

Governor Patrick mandated that all state agencies must reach 50% recycling by 2010. Although not at the 50% level for the facility, MCI Concord has more than tripled its recycling efforts in the last three years.

The range of products that are recycled is extensive. Plastics, cardboard, paper, shredded paper, tin and mixed paper to name a few. MCI Concord (storehouse) shreds all the plastics for the Department of Correction. Along with a work crew from NECC, the storehouse then sorts the plastic by grade and color and puts them through a granulator and shreds them into a fine powderlike substance. IRN, the recycling company the department uses, then find markets for our recycled products.

The DOC is a leader among state agencies in recycling. We have also assisted other agencies in their recycling efforts. Large events hosted in Boston, such as the Boston Marathon, the Head of the Charles Regatta and the July 4 th celebration on the Esplanade, resulted in trailers being brought to MCI Concord for processing collected rubbish.

In addition to the granulator, we also bail the remaining products for recycling. Most bails run about 1,000 pounds. Once bailed, the items are brought to NCCI Gardner.

Fiscally, recycling has reduced our trash cost, which in the economic times we find ourselves in, is the responsible thing to do. However, the greatest benefit to recycling is reducing trash in landfills and preserving our natural resources for the future.

MCI Concord’s Veterans Committee
By Lois Russo, Deputy Supt. of Operations
and Sgt. Thomas Hebert

The MCI Concord Veterans Committee started with a group of veterans and servicemen having breakfast before their shift, talking about military history, issues, and current military events. These individuals began working with a couple of staff from the Employee Focus Group about a year ago concerning a mutual desire to recognize military staff in the facility in a more tangible way. The initiatives started out small. On Memorial Day 2007, small American flags were placed out on the oval in front of the prison. Each flag symbolized a staff person who is a veteran.

In November 2008, the committee started the tradition of creating a “Missing Man” table in the staff dining area to commemorate and honor America's POW/ MIAs.

In May 2009, two plaques were dedicated to the service men and women working at MCI Concord and a large sign with the seals of each branch of the service was installed in the prison lobby. The sign states “MCI Concord honors those who have served our Nation past and present.”

The committee developed a web page on the MCI Concord site that contains information about the militaryhistory, trivia, charity events, and commemorations.

The committee is now in the process of replacing some of the hardware on the two flagpoles at the entrance of the facility and installing lights so the flags will be illuminated. They have also started a Christmas drive for the children of deployed servicemen and women.

The Committee’s endeavors have been appreciated by vets and nonvets alike. Their efforts have served to boost morale, improve the appearance of the facility, and promote positive working relationships between employees from diverse departments.

Transforming the Prison Landscape
By Lois Russo, Deputy Supt. of Operations

In 2007, a concerted effort was made to restore the interior grounds of MCI Concord to its condition of some 20 years ago. CO Edward Goodwin and a small crew of inmates began transforming the grounds. They performed most of the work with very little resources. The crew was able to recycle shrubbery by splitting up existing bushes and moving them to better locations. They used existing material to better define the lawn and walkway areas. Flowers were purchased from the SMCC greenhouse and then the seeds were saved for future cultivation. Due to CO Goodwin’s “green thumb” and the diligent work of the crew, it did not take long to see an improvement. Apart from the aesthetics, several staff noticed that the improvements had security benefits. The flow of inmate traffic during general movement times was easier to control and monitor, as the space that inmates traveled was better contained with the addition of grassy areas and better defined walkways.

For the inmates, CO Goodwin’s crew provides a place for them to perform meaningful work where they can take pride in and observe almost immediate results of their labors. Additionally, the ability to see more than concrete and dirt inside of the prison provides the inmate population with a valuable and humanizing link with the external environment.

The project opened doors to community involvement when volunteers visiting the facility noticed the improvements. A local volunteer was so impressed, that he donated plants from his own garden. Concord Prison Outreach (CPO), a local volunteer organization, became involved and donated a rototiller, several plants, and books on landscaping. They also drafted a lesson plan to keep the crew going through the winter by offering workshops by professional landscapers and business people on landscaping, farming, horticulture, and small business issues.

The project has been rewarding from a number of perspectives as it has been able to link the shared interests of staff, inmates, and local community members.


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