In the article “Mass. prison system flip-flops on staff discipline” (Metro, March 19), concerning the Department of Correction temporarily suspending employee disciplinary hearings and matters as a safety measure to reduce contact during the COVID-19 crisis, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins projected a lack of knowledge regarding the Commonwealth’s correctional system. For starters, Rollins criticized the directive by assuming that such disciplinary matters are intrinsically related to inmate abuse. This is not true.
For a decade I served the department as an administrative prosecutor and senior labor relations specialist, representing the Correction Department at hundreds of such disciplinary proceedings. Most of these types of cases concern technical security or policy breaches, such as sharing personal information with inmates, conducting improper inmate searches, or tardiness, which are far more likely to put staff at risk, not inmates.
Moreover, it is shocking that Rollins, who is charged with proving defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, jumps to the false conclusion that the corrections officers in question have necessarily been “disgraced,” as if guilty of committing malicious acts. This also is not true. These cases generally result from unintentional violations warranting corrective action, such as retraining or short suspensions.
Rollins also referred to inmates as “prisoners” and correction officers as “guards.” These are outdated, offensive terms discarded decades ago.