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Group plans sit-in outside governor’s office

A group of clergy and prisoners’ rights advocates is planning a sit-in outside Governor Charlie Baker’s office on Friday – the birthday of slain civil rights leader Malcolm X – in an effort to press the governor to investigate allegations of abuse in the state correction system and end practices such as solitary confinement, which the activists call “barbaric.”

The activists plan to appeal to the governor to meet with them to hear their concerns, said Lynn Currier, who runs The Massachusetts 6+, whose members work with people who are incarcerated.

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“We are pushing the governor for an investigation and he’s ignoring it,’’ said Currier. “So we are going back until he sits with us.”

The group’s demands include ending what members say are unwarranted assignments of inmates to high-security facilities; forming a citizens’ oversight committee; and exonerating convicts whose cases were affected by a drug lab scandal in Western Massachusetts.

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Currier said the system is failing to offer appropriate rehabilitative services and targeted prisoner activists by transferring them to maximum-security facilities or placing them in isolation. She said the group has been trying to meet with the governor for a year, but not gotten a response.

The advocates pledged to return to the governor’s office every Friday to “remind him of his responsibility until he gives us a meeting.”

Billy Pitman, the governor’s press secretary, said members of the administration have met and corresponded with the advocates and clergy members over their concerns.

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He noted that the administration filed bipartisan reform legislation last month that will reduce the number of people incarcerated because of their inability to pay a fine.

The administration has also worked closely with legislative and judicial leaders on an independent analysis of the state’s criminal justice system, he said. The aim, Pitman added, was to bring about reforms “that will reduce recidivism and support the Commonwealth’s already declining prison population. “

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.
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