Skip to Content

General Laws

Section 1. In addition to exercising the powers and performing the duties which are otherwise given him by law, the commissioner of correction, in this chapter called the commissioner, shall:

(a) designate, establish, maintain, and administer such state correctional facilities as he deems necessary, and may discontinue the use of such state correctional facilities as he deems appropriate for such action; provided that no state or county correctional facility named in paragraph (n) of section one of chapter 125 shall be discontinued without specific authorization and approval of the General Court;

(b) maintain security, safety and order at all state correctional facilities, utilize the resources of the department to prevent escapes from any such facility, take all necessary precautions to prevent the occurrence or spread of any disorder, riot or insurrection at any such facility, including but not limited to the development, planning, and coordination of emergency riot procedures with the colonel of state police, and take suitable measures for the restoration of order;

(c) establish and enforce standards for all state correctional facilities;

(d) establish standards for all county correctional facilities and secure compliance with such standards, if necessary, through the enforcement provisions of section one B of chapter one hundred and twenty-seven;

(e) establish, maintain and administer programs of rehabilitation, including but not limited to education, training and employment, of persons committed to the custody of the department, designed as far as practicable to prepare and assist each such person to assume the responsibilities and exercise the rights of a citizen of the commonwealth;

(f) establish a system of classification of persons committed to the custody of the department for the purpose of developing a rehabilitation program for each such person;

(g) determine at the time of commitment, and from time to time thereafter, the custody requirements and program needs of each person committed to the custody of the department and assign or transfer such persons to appropriate facilities and programs;

(h) establish training programs for employees of the department and, by agreement, other corrections personnel;

(i) investigate grievances and inquire into alleged misconduct within state correctional facilities;

(j) maintain adequate records of persons committed to the custody of the department;

(k) establish and maintain programs of research, statistics and planning, and conduct studies relating to correctional programs and responsibilities of the department;

(l) utilize, as far as practicable, the services and resources of specialized community agencies and other local community groups in the rehabilitation of offenders, development of programs, recruitment of volunteers and dissemination of information regarding the work and needs of the department;

(m) make and enter any contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of the duties and execution of the powers of the department, including but not limited to contracts to render services to committed offenders, and to provide for training or education for correctional officers and staff;

(n) seek to develop civic interest in the work of the department and educate the public and advise the general court as to the needs and goals of the corrections process;

(o) expend annually in the exercise of his powers, performance of his duties, and for the necessary operations of the department such sums as may be appropriated therefor by the general court;

(p) report annually to the secretary of health and human services, the governor and the general court;

(q) make and promulgate necessary rules and regulations incident to the exercise of his powers and the performance of his duties including but not limited to rules and regulations regarding nutrition, sanitation, safety, discipline, recreation, religious services, communication and visiting privileges, classification, education, training, employment, care, and custody for all persons committed to correctional facilities.

(r) adopt policies and procedures, in consultation with the county sheriffs, establishing reasonable fees for haircuts that are provided to inmates at any county or state correctional facility. Except as otherwise provided, the commissioner or a county sheriff may charge each inmate a reasonable fee for any haircut provided. The commissioner of correction may deduct such fee from the inmate’s account as provided for in section 48A of chapter 127.

(s) adopt policies and procedures establishing reasonable medical and health service fees for the medical services that are provided to inmates at any state jail or correctional facility. Except as otherwise provided, the commissioner may charge each inmate a reasonable fee for any medical and mental health services provided, including prescriptions, medication, or prosthetic devices. The fee shall be deducted from the inmate’s account as provided for in section 48A of chapter 127. The commissioner shall exempt the following inmates from payment of medical and health services fees: medical visits initiated by the medical or mental health staff, consultants, or contract personnel of the department, prisoners determined to be terminally ill, pregnant, or otherwise hospitalized for more than 30 days successively during the term of incarceration and juvenile inmates and inmates who are undergoing follow-up medical treatment for chronic diseases. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, an inmate shall not be refused medical treatment for financial reasons. The commissioner shall also establish criteria for reasonable deductions from moneys credited to the inmate’s account as provided for in section 48A of chapter 127 to repay the cost of medical treatment for injuries that were self-inflicted or inflicted by the inmate on others.

(t) in accordance with clause (s), the commissioner shall as part of the rules and regulations on payments for medical services, require the department of corrections or the county correctional facility to ascertain whether any inmate seeking medical services has health insurance coverage and if said inmate does have health insurance coverage, said health insurance plan shall be billed for any services provided.

(u) adopt policies and procedures establishing reasonable fees for maintenance and administration of inmate accounts maintained at any state correctional facility. The commissioner may charge each inmate reasonable fees for the maintenance and administration of inmate accounts and may deduct such fees from each inmate’s accounts.

Error