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Man dies in cell at substance abuse center in Plymouth prison

A man who was civilly committed to the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center in Plymouth, a former minimum-security prison run by the state Department of Correction, died his cell Friday, according to law enforcement officials.

David McKinley, 29, had been at the facility for three days when his roommate found him unresponsive on the floor of his cell at 10:47 a.m. and alerted the guards, according to DOC spokesman Christoper Fallon. The roommate told officers he had had untied a ligature from McKinley’s neck before calling for help. A security round had been conducted by officers just nine minutes earlier, Fallon said in a statement.


Video footage showed that the roommate had walked into the room and spent about 13 seconds inside before summoning officers, according to Fallon.

Officers attempted CPR, and McKinley was taken by ambulance to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth, where he was pronounced dead at 11:51 a.m.

The Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office was notified, Fallon said, and the incident is under investigation.

McKinley was not on suicide watch, Fallon said, and had no record of suicide attempts.

McKinley’s family could not be reached for comment.

The facility, called MASAC at Plymouth, used to be located at Bridgewater State Hospital, but was relocated to Plymouth this spring, Fallon said. The move gave the facility room to expand from 150 to 200 beds and it provided a more “treatment-type setting,” Fallon said. When it was at Bridgewater, he said, patients slept in dormitory-style bunk beds. In Plymouth, they stay in two-person rooms.

All the inmates at MASAC have been civilly committed for substance abuse treatment, Fallon said, except for a small group of minimum-security prisoners who live separately, and who clean, do laundry, and cook at the facility.

In early May, shortly after MASAC relocated to Plymouth, nine patients attempted to escape from custody, according to coverage at the time. They were quickly apprehended.


James Pingeon, litigation director at Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, said the organization has heard many complaints about conditions at MASAC. The facility is run like a prison and staffed heavily with correctional officers, he said, even though the patients inside are there for help, and not because they’ve committed crimes.

“People who desperately need treatment for addiction should not be sent to prison,” said Pingeon. “It’s inevitable that tragedies like this are happening.”

Evan Allen can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.