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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 39: Restrictive housing; use authorized; conditions of confinement; mental health screening and evaluation; promulgation of clinical standard

Section 39. (a) Subject to the limits of this section and section 39A, the superintendent of a state correctional facility or the administrator of a county correctional facility may authorize the confinement of a prisoner in a restrictive housing unit to discipline the prisoner or if the prisoner's retention in general population poses an unacceptable risk: (i) to the safety of others; (ii) of damage or destruction of property; or (iii) to the operation of a correctional facility.

(b) In addition to meeting all standards established by the regulations of the department of public health, restrictive housing units shall provide: (i) meals that meet the same standards established by the commissioner for general population prisoners; (ii) access to showers not less than 3 days per week; (iii) rights of visitation and communication by those properly authorized; provided, however, that the authorization may be diminished for the enforcement of discipline for a period not to exceed 15 days in a state correctional facility or 10 days in a county correctional facility for each offense; (iv) access to reading and writing materials unless clinically contraindicated; (v) access to a radio or television if confinement exceeds 30 days; (vi) periodic mental and psychiatric examinations under the supervision of the department of mental health; (vii) medical and psychiatric treatment as clinically indicated under the supervision of the department of mental health; (viii) the same access to canteen purchases and privileges to retain property in a prisoner's cell as prisoners in the general population at the same facility; provided, however, that such access and privileges may be diminished for the enforcement of discipline for a period not to exceed 15 days in a state correctional facility or 10 days in a county correctional facility for each offense or where inconsistent with the security of the unit; (ix) the same access to disability accommodations as prisoners in general population, except where inconsistent with the security of the unit; and (x) other rights and privileges as may be established or recognized by the commissioner.

(c) Before placement in restrictive housing, a prisoner shall be screened by a qualified mental health professional to determine if the prisoner has a serious mental illness or restrictive housing is otherwise clinically contraindicated based on clinical standards adopted by the department of correction and the qualified mental health professional's clinical judgment.

(d) A qualified mental health professional shall make rounds in every restrictive housing unit and may conduct an out-of-cell meeting with a prisoner for whom a confidential meeting is warranted in the clinician's professional judgment. Prisoners shall be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional in accordance with clinical standards adopted by the department of correction and the qualified mental health professional's clinical judgment to determine whether the prisoner has a serious mental illness or restrictive housing is otherwise clinically contraindicated.

(e) The department of correction shall promulgate clinical standards, in consultation with the department of mental health.