Massachusetts Intends To Close MCI-Concord, The Oldest Prison For Male In The State

The oldest male prison in the state, MCI-Concord, is about to close as Massachusetts continues to witness a decline in the state’s prison population.

Massachusetts Intends To Close MCI-Concord, The Oldest Prison For Male In The State

According to a $58 billion budget plan that Governor Maura Healey announced on Wednesday, closing the medium security institution, which opened in 1878, will save the state almost $16 million annually.

“It also reflects the fact that our prison population has declined. It’s at the lowest point it has been in 35 years,” Healey said. “It’s a matter of justice too.”

Democratic co-chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and state senator Jamie Eldridge noted that the prison is only operating at roughly half capacity and would require significant renovations if it were to remain open. The 400 or so inmates who remain at the facility will be transferred to other jails.

According to Eldridge, who gave the state’s efforts to lower recidivism credit for some of the prison’s dropping inmate population, the facility may close as early as June.

Pointing to a 2018 statute that decriminalized some minor offences and extended procedures aimed to help detour people from engagement in the criminal justice system, he said, “If there was going to be a prison closed in Mass, MCI Concord was the one.”

In her State of the Commonwealth speech earlier this month, Democrat Healey hinted at several recommendations that she included in the fiscal year 2025 budget, which she presented on Wednesday. These included cutting the exorbitant cost of housing and childcare and designating Massachusetts as “the climate innovation lab for the world.”

Healey said the budget would boost expenditure by less than 3 per cent, the weakest rise in about five years, but it doesn’t rely on any new broad-based taxes and won’t require a drain from the state’s rainy day fund.

The proposed budget allocates the expected $1.3 billion obtained from the “millionaire tax” voted by voters to education and transportation, encompassing the implementation of a universal school meals initiative and a low-income fare reduction scheme for the public transportation system in the greater Boston area.

With monthly revenues coming in at a slower rate than anticipated, the administration is trying to close an estimated $1 billion hole. More than two weeks ago, Healey announced $375 million in budget cuts for the current fiscal year. This is when the budget was released.

A proposal that would ensure that by 2026, every 4-year-old in the state’s 26 former industrial “Gateway Cities” has the opportunity to participate in a high-quality preschool program at no cost or for a minimal fee is included in the budget.

According to Healey, her budget would also assist 4,000 more low- and moderate-income families in paying for after-school activities and child care.

Healey admitted that as the state struggles to manage an ongoing migrant inflow, it has also come under growing demand on its homeless shelter system.

To assist pay for family shelter expenses in both fiscal years 2024 and 2025, her family shelter plan would rely on $325 million from the fiscal year 2025 budget in addition to an extra proposal that grants the state access to roughly $900 million from a surplus spending account.

Healey was praised by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr for having started to see “the gathering fiscal storm clouds swirling above our state.”

However, he issued a warning against suggesting more spending.

“As we navigate through the budgetary process, it is crucial to strike a balance between immediate needs and the long-term sustainability of critical programs,” the Republican said in a statement. “Now is the time to tighten our belt and prevent avoidable, unsustainable spending.”

A proposal to permit electronic bail payments and another to allow the lottery to establish guidelines for lotteries held online or through mobile applications are also included in the budget.

The Massachusetts House and Senate will now have to draft their budgets based on the approved budget. It will be necessary to merge the two documents into a single budget before returning it to Healey for her approval and any necessary vetoes.

Healey claimed that in addition to implementing a $4 billion housing plan, the administration is also attempting to address the state’s housing crisis by making it simpler to locate reasonably priced homes in the region.

 

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