Bridgewater State Hospital

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Bridgewater State Hospital
Location Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Coordinates 41°56′48″N 70°57′08″W / 41.94667°N 70.95222°W / 41.94667; -70.95222Coordinates: 41°56′48″N 70°57′08″W / 41.94667°N 70.95222°W / 41.94667; -70.95222
Status Operational
Security class Level 4 (Medium)
Capacity 227 (Houses 349)
Opened 1855
Managed by Massachusetts Department of Correction
Director Superintendent Robert Murphy

Bridgewater State Hospital, located in southeastern Massachusetts, is a state facility housing the criminally insane and those whose sanity is being evaluated for the criminal justice system. It was established in 1855 as an almshouse. It was then used as a workhouse for inmates with short sentences who worked the surrounding farmland. It was later rebuilt in the 1880s and again in 1974. Bridgewater State Hospital currently houses 395 inmates all of whom are adult males.[1] The facility was the subject of the 1967 documentary Titicut Follies.[2] Bridgewater State Hospital falls under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

Controversy[edit]

2014 A Civil lawsuit was settled out of court regarding a patient's declining health from abuse, namely, being excessively restrained and secluded. The particular patient had spent over 6000 hours in isolation, despite never having had been convicted of a crime.[3]

2014 Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick formally reprimanded Administration officials regarding their attempts to cover up procedural mishaps, including the use of forced restraint, that precipitated the death of a patient in 2009.[4] Then superintendent Karin Bergeron was exposed in internal e-mails as having attempted to cover up reports of the murdered patient's death after it was ruled a homicide.[5]

2014 The Boston Globe published an exposé on how the use of forced restraints – in which patients are bound to a table by hands and legs –increased over a 5 year period at an alarmingly high rate, in spite of the death of a patient in 2009 resulting from the use of such "four point restraints".

The Department of Correction’s own Internal Affairs Unit had formally found that in 2011, facility officers Howard and Raposo had violated a procedural policy that states that guards shall never put pressure on a restrained inmate’s back. Surveillance video revealed that the two guards pushed down on a handcuffed patient’s back with force, forcing his chest toward his knees, a maneuver sometimes called “suitcasing.”[6] According to the article:[7]

2012 Fox news Boston releases the security camera footage of officers strapping down the patient whose death was ruled a homicide in 2009. The tape's footage is controversial because officer Derek Howard can be seen using an illegal restraint practice.[8]

2009 A patient was killed when improperly restrained. The man's family was awarded $3 million dollars in damages to settle a lawsuit. At that time Boston Governor Deval Patrick called forth investigation into the practices at Bridgewater.

2008 George A. Billadeau, a police Sergeant at the facility, was the subject of a formal complaint that accused him of making a racial slur to a patient[9]

2007, The Disability Law Center, a human rights advocacy firm in Boston, sued Bridgewater State Hospital over illegally restraining a patient.[10]

2007 A patient committed suicide by hanging himself in the showers while there on a 30-day court evaluation when BSH staff failed to prevent it.[11]

2004 The family of murdered inmate William Mosher planned to sue the state and BSH for $150million dollars for failing to protect their son.[12]

2004 William Mosher Jr., a patient who suffered from Bi-polar disorder, was murdered in his room by a fellow inmate when the facility failed to protect him by keeping his enemy away.[13]

1999 Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services served and won a successful lawsuit against Bridgewater for an officer throwing acid in one of the patient's face. Until the lawsuit, the DOC and BSH had dropped the investigation mid way.[14]

1989 ABC news Nightline broadcast a TV news special outlining mistreament off the patients at Bridgewater State Hospital[15]

1987 After 8 patient deaths in a year, the New York Times did an exposé on Bridgewater State Hospital and its poor treatment of patients.[16]

History[edit]

By the 1970s the campus of the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Bridgewater (MCIB) housed four separate facilities: The State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, the Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons, a center for alcoholics, and a minimum security prison.

In 1968 there were hearings conducted after a study showed that there were 30 inmates committed to the state hospital illegally. Most of the prisoners stayed at Bridgewater because they did not have the legal skills or money available to help their claim. Many of the prisoners' terms had long expired. An example of this was a patient named Charles who was sentenced to Bridgewater in 1910 for breaking and entering. The maximum time for this felony was two years, and he still remained in the prison after 1967. Furthermore in later news, it was found that the number of inmates at Bridgewater grew to 500. Many[who?] felt that society was not doing its job in distinguishing men that needed regular prison rehabilitation and psychiatric help. There needed to be changes in what constitutes a person to be sent to a mental hospital. Also among the changes that needed to be implemented were the confidentially between the inmates and the doctors as well as having a standard by which a person is considered mentally insane.[17]

In 1967 a legislative committee investigated allegations of "cruel, inhuman, and barbarous treatment". There were witnesses who were able to describe problems with the water and sewage systems, insufficient medical, kitchen, and recreational facilities. As a result in 1972 John Boone, the Massachusetts Commissioner of Corrections, closed the segregation unit at Bridgewater State Hospital because it required maintenance. Bridgewater's facilities were not suitable for the standard means of health and living. There were 90-year-old cell blocks which did not have any toilets. Boone closed the Departmental Segregation Unit at Bridgewater to hold hearings for the sixteen inmates who had been transferred out of Norfolk.

Albert DeSalvo, who confessed to being the Boston Strangler, was an inmate at Bridgewater in 1967. He briefly escaped and was transferred to the maximum security prison at Walpole.[18]

Many of the prisoners at Bridgewater State Hospital were not criminally insane people. This is evident with a man who painted a horse in 1938. He was sent to Bridgewater because he painted a horse with stripes to make it look like a zebra. He was a poor vendor whose occupation was selling fresh fruit. In order to appeal to the people and increase his sales, he painted the horse. He was later arrested at the age of 29 and charged with drunkenness. He died at the facility at an old age where he was only supposed to serve at Bridgewater for two years.[19]

There was a time at the Bridgewater State Hospital when many of the inmates were there long after their sentence date. In 1968 over 250 cases were reviewed of forgotten men at Bridgewater. There were inmates that were at Bridgewater for over twenty-five years. Some inmates were transferred to Bridgewater from other jails and prison facilities and kept at Bridgewater for much longer than their sentences entailed.[20]

Titicut Follies[edit]

Titicut Follies is a powerful documentary that showed the horrors of Bridgewater in 1967; its title is the name of the talent show the inmates would perform in every year. Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman observed the hospital for twenty-nine days, depicting the harsh treatment the inmates received by the guards and how the doctors were not aware of the proper treatment the inmates needed.

This was apparent with one inmate where he was classified as a paranoid schizophrenic. He came to Bridgewater for medical testing but ended up being a resident there. He received powerful medication that made his mental state worsen as time progressed. He went to a review board to explain that he did not need to be at Bridgewater because the treatment he was receiving was not proper for his well being. His case was not rare at Bridgewater.

Throughout the film, the viewer can see the mistreatment inmates received from the guards and the prisoners. There is one instance where the guards were harassing an inmate because his cell was not clean. He is obviously mentally ill and frustrated by the repeating questions the guards ask him about his cell but there is not much he can do. Furthermore, one inmate was not eating so he was force fed by one of the doctors at the facility. While force feeding him with a tube, the doctor is smoking a cigarette while the ashes are mixing with the water and other liquids he is giving him. The documentary at the same time flashed to the death of the same inmate. In addition, when the inmates were in their cell, they did not have any clothing.

Many of the inmates were not mentally insane, they were just sent there under rare circumstances. The documentary illustrates how some inmates were mentally unstable and others were considered to be normal.

Officer deaths at Bridgewater[edit]

  • Feb. 13, 1928 - Night Watchman Wilfred Gerrior was beaten to death and strangled during an escape attempt.
  • Feb. 13, 1928 - Night Supervisor Eugene Amlaw was beaten to death during an escape attempt.
  • January 1, 1942 - Officers Howard Murphy and Franklin Weston were stabbed to death with chisels during an escape attempt, and Officer George Landry was stabbed to death with a chisel when he came to the aid of his fellow downed officers.

Facility address[edit]

Bridgewater State Hospital
20 Administration Road
Bridgewater, MA 02324
Phone: (508) 279-4500

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kauffman,Kelsey:Prison Officers and their world, pg 42.Harvard Press.1988
  2. ^ "Judge Proposes Compromise on Banned Film". The New York Times. September 30, 1989. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  3. ^ Resendez, Michael (April 18, 2014). "Bridgewater inmate’s family agrees to settle suit". Boston Globe. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  4. ^ Resendez, Michael (March 2, 2014). "Correction chief, staff rebuked in patient death". Boston Globe. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  5. ^ Resendez, Michael (April 17, 2014). "New scrutiny for Bridgewater State Hospital after complaints". Boston Globe. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  6. ^ Resendez, Michael (April 6, 2014). "Bridgewater restraints use rose, even after patient’s death". The Boston Globe. 
  7. ^ "In December 2013 alone, Bridgewater State Hospital, with a population that hovers around 325, held patients in seclusion and restraints for more than 13,000 hours — a rate of 1,491 hours per 1,000 patient days, vastly more than other state-run psychiatric facilities. Five Department of Mental Health facilities with about 626 in-patient beds held patients in seclusion and restraints for a total of only 135 hours in that month — 7.07 hours per 1,000 patient days."
  8. ^ Beaudet, Mike (Nov 15, 2012). Fox News. 
  9. ^ Resendez, Michael (March 2, 2014). "Correction chief, staff rebuked in patient death". Boston Globe. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ Resendez, Michael (April 17, 2014). "New scrutiny for Bridgewater State Hospital after complaints". Boston Globe. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  11. ^ Guilfoil, John. "Inmate, 27, hangs self at Bridgewater hospital". Globe. Retrieved April 1, 2007. 
  12. ^ Herald, Boston (2004-09-20). "Dead inmate's family files $150M suit". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2004-09-20. 
  13. ^ Pratt, Mark (August 29, 2004). "Inmate death at Bridgewater State Hospital an apparent homicide". Associated Press. Retrieved 2004. 
  14. ^ LOMBARDI, KRISTEN. "Shame on the Department of Correction". Boston Phoneix. Retrieved 1999. 
  15. ^ Kopel, Ted (1989). "Horrors at Bridgewater State Hospital". ABC NEWS. 
  16. ^ Ny Times, Ny Times (July 19, 1987). "Deaths at a Prison Hospital Lead to Inquiries". New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 1987. 
  17. ^ "500 at Bridgewater Illegally Committed=Boston Herald Traveler". March 28, 1968. 
  18. ^ Kelly, Susan (2006). The Boston Stranglers. Pinnacle Books. pp. 140–146. ISBN 0-7860-1466-0. 
  19. ^ "… All He Did Was Paint a Horse=The Globe". September 15, 1967. 
  20. ^ "Forgotten Men' To Get Trial=The Globe". May 25, 1968. 

External links[edit]