State Considering Closing Inmate Facility in Framingham

FRAMINGHAM – The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is taking a very serious look at closing an inmate facility in Framingham.

The State’s Executive Office of Public Safety published a request for proposals (RFP) yesterday for a $650,000 study for the Bay State Correctional Center Women’s Facility in Norfolk, which could have an impact on the viability of the Framingham inmate facility.

The bids are due January 8, 2020.

“The main goal of this project is to ready Bay State Correctional Center (located in Norfolk) for the transfer of approximately 200 female inmates from MCI Framingham with a target date of Spring 2024,” said the state in documents.

SOURCE request a statement from the State’s Executive Office for Safety and Security earlier today on the RFP and its impact on Framingham. No statement has arrived, as of 11 p.m.

The state is looking at possibly closing the South Middlesex Correctional Center in Framingham, based on yesterday’s RFP.

MCI Framingham’s future has been raised several times over the years, as the facility is in need of serious renovations.

The Massachusetts Correctional Institute Framingham (MCI Framingham) is the oldest female correctional institute in operation in the United States. It is a medium-security facility and is Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) only institution dedicated for female offenders.

The South Middlesex Correctional Center is a minimum-security pre-release state prison adjacent to the MCI Framingham campus.

Opened in 1976 as part of MCI-Framingham, the South Middlesex Correctional Center is now its own facility with 200 beds for women.

MCI Framingham opened in 1877, as the second prison for women in the United States. Its capacity is roughly 450, but it has more than 600 inmates. It is located at 99 Loring Drive in Framingham. There is

In October, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins said the state plans to close down its women’s prison in Framingham. But the state denied that claim in October.

Yesterday, the state released an RFP for a design study and said the project would seek “to enhance the programs already offered on the Bay State Correctional Center campus as well as to relocate the functions currently provided at MCI Framingham, this approach may include multiple scenarios, including but not limited to:

• the renovation and/or addition to existing buildings;

• the demolition of existing minor buildings and/or other structures;

• the construction of a new building, or buildings.”

“The secondary goal of this project is to evaluate the potential of converting South Middlesex Correctional Center into a separate and self-sufficient correctional center with up to 125 female inmates, including inmates transferred from MCI Framingham. To enhance the programs already offered on the South Middlesex Correctional Center campus as well as to relocate the functions currently provided at MCI Framingham, this approach may include multiple scenarios that will need to be examined through a test fit,” according to state documents.

The estimated cost of the project is $50 million.

“The Design Team will be required to evaluate these scenarios at a conceptual level and recommend, in conjunction with DCAMM and DOC staff, the most effective and efficient approach for making South Middlesex Correctional Center a stand-alone correctional center,” states the RFP released yesterday.

The RFP seeks a design team with professional skills and expertise for the study, design and construction administration for proposed improvements to existing buildings as well a new building, or buildings, at Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk.

“The purpose of the study is to develop an implementable project to bring this correctional campus, which is currently occupied by DOC employees only, back into operational mode in order to accommodate approximately 200 female inmates (from medium and maximum security levels) who will be relocated from MCI Framingham,” states the RFP.

“The Department is seeking a design team for the study, design and construction management to return Baystate Correctional Center to a fully operational facility to accommodate women who would be relocated from MCI-Framingham,” said the Department of Corrections in a statement to SOURCE tonight, December 5.

“Additionally, the study should review and determine at a conceptual level if South Middlesex Correctional Center, an inmate-occupied correctional center located directly adjacent to MCI Framingham, which has a design capacity for 125 female detainees (from pre-release and minimum security levels) who will be relocated from MCI Framingham,” states the RFP.

“South Middlesex Correctional Center is currently dependent on infrastructure systems from the power plant at MCI Framingham, including electric power, steam heating, and water supply,” said the RFP.

The final product of the initial effort for this project will be a certifiable Study that incorporates Schematic Design for Bay State Correctional Center and conceptual design for South Middlesex Correctional Center, stated the RFP posted yesterday, December 4.

The total estimated project timeline is 44-53 months.

The scope of work for South Middlesex Correctional Center will include, but not be limited to:

• Documentation of existing conditions of all buildings and grounds;

• Recommendation of detailed repairs and magnitude of cost for such repairs, including immediate repairs and improvements to completely decouple South Middlesex Correctional Center from MCI Framingham;

• Evaluation of current and future programmatic needs, including the relocation of programs, services, and activities from MCI Framingham that are currently associated with South Middlesex Correctional Center;

• Development of a test fit to confirm whether South Middlesex Correctional Center can become a stand-alone correctional center for female inmates;

• Development of conceptual design alternatives and selection of preferred option including cost analysis.

The Department is taking this preliminary step with DCAMM (State Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance) to study the most effective and efficient way to address the prohibitive costs for renovations/improvements at MCI-Framingham.

SOURCE requested a statement from Mayor Yvonne Spicer. Her office has not responded with a statement, as of 11 p.m.

About Bay State & South Middlesex Correctional facilities

Correctional and Bay State Correctional Center is located at 28 Clark Street in Norfolk, approximately 30 miles Southwest of Boston.

This Norfolk correctional campus under control of Department of Correction was officially opened in 1977 as a minimum facility for 72 male inmates.

There have been two subsequent expansions: one in the 1980’s expanded the main building and a second in the early 1990’s converting the facility to medium security by adding a perimeter fence and three Type II modular wood structures – gatehouse, visiting building and a 2-story housing unit.

The inmate population was completely relocated from this correctional campus in late 2015.

The property is technically not closed as DOC’s Central Transportation Unit currently occupies the Gate House and Visiting Building. The Main Building and the Modular Building are currently utilized for the training of DOC employees.

South Middlesex Correctional Center is located at 135 Western Avenue in Framingham, on approximately 6 acres of land directly adjacent to MCI Framingham.

This correctional campus under control of DOC was officially opened in 1981 as a facility for male and female inmates and became an all-female correctional center in 2002.

It currently houses sentenced county and DOC female inmates in the Pre-release security level.

The campus’ portfolio is comprised of approximately 56,362 gross square feet distributed within six structures: two major buildings (South Middlesex Correctional Center (52,600 GSF) and the Reunification House (1,752)) and four minor buildings (Automotive Garage 6 (900 GSF), Greenhouse (1,100 GSF), and two sheds (96 and 80 GSF).

South Middlesex Correctional Center currently relies on infrastructure systems from the power plant at MCI Framingham, including electric power, steam heating, and water supply.

There are approximately about 140 parking spaces at South Middlesex Correctional Center, the site is served by a MetroWest Regional Transit Authority bus line and is within one mile from the Framingham train station served by the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line.

Unlike MCI Framingham, this correctional campus does not appear to have historic designation, according to state documents.

Design Study RFP Details

“The Design Team will review and analyze the recent Massachusetts’ criminal justice reform efforts, including but not limited to record keeping, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), and segregation, which is now referred to as restrictive housing,” according to the RFP.

“The Design Team is expected to be knowledgeable on how the criminal justice reform law impacts the built environment at Bay State Correctional Center and South Middlesex Correctional Center,” according to the state document.

“The project must aim to set a higher standard for women’s correctional centers In addition to focusing on rehabilitation, the new building(s) and the renovations to the existing buildings must also have an eye to specific needs of the female prison population, such as on-site women’s mental and medical health services, vocational programs aligned with women’s interests, visiting area with a playroom for children, substance abuse and trauma treatment programs that are designed to reduce female offender recidivism. The Design Team is expected to strike the right balance between custodial and clinical needs and incorporate best practices in the design, operation, and security of correctional facilities and their application to a correctional center designed for women. The project must utilize the principles of trauma-informed design to create welcoming and therapeutic spaces,” states the RFP.

“The project must place female inmates and correctional officers at the center of the design,” states the RFP.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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