One woman hung herself, and died at MCI Framingham last weekend. Two more tried to hang themselves. There is only one prison in Massachusetts for all female prisoners – whether for drug use or murder.
60% of the inmates at MCI Framingham suffer from diagnosed mental illness. There are no hospital beds for them because so many beds were closed.
The real problem, says Joel Pentlarge of the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, originated with the closing of state hospitals that used to serve the mentally ill.
“We’re using our prisons to a large extent to institutionalize our most seriously mentally ill people,” he said.”And prisons don’t do a good job of treating the mentally ill.”
But, Walker notes, “The DOC didn’t ask to be the state’s mental hospital, but it is.”
More than four mental health positions have been cut at MCI Framingham. The prison, which was built to accommodate 452, but on the day Inmate Christina Morando, 22, of Swampscott, hanged herself with a bedsheet Sunday night MCI Framingham held 593 women.
This is not a new problem. Here is an article about a woman born in MCI Prison to an inmate, who also hung herself there. From inmate’s daughter to suicide at the same prison
Earlier this month I visited a client who is held at MCI Framingham; I represent her in a Care and Protection Case. My client was imprisoned for a violation of her parole without a hearing [this is how it is done] and as a result, the state took her 10 year old daughter. The bright lining in this case is that the father held joint custody, and the daughter is with him.
My client had a large raw area on her face. She explained that a major growth of malignant melanoma was removed; she had complained about a weeping sore and it took four months to see a doctor by which time about 25% of the skin of her face needed to be removed. She wants my help to be able to call her daughter from prison; as well as with medical care, which is rationed quite heavily to all appearances. What caused her sentence to activate was a “dirty screen”.
She also has a history of suicidal depression and a life story full of tragedy, including the death due to a heart attack of the first husband who she so loved, and who rescued her from an abusive home, by a heart attack when she was 19. It was after his death, a story I have verified, that she turned to substances to numb her pain.
Her life story is so depressing with such heinous events I cannot write about it here. Does she need therapy? Well, yes. And medical care? Well yes. And a chance, I hope, with some hard work, to at least stay in touch with her daughter.
Cutting 4.5 mental health positions at MCI Framingham won’t help this client of mine, and just might be part of why 22 year old Christina Morando was found hanging fron a bedsheet, dead last week.
I wish I could say, “Together we did better.”
After my most recent visit to MCI Framingham and the most recent news which sounds so much like 2006, I cannot say we are doing better by these sad, almost forgotten, vulnerable mentally ill women.