Massachusetts Correctional Institution – Norfolk

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Massachusetts Correctional Institution—Norfolk
Massachusetts Correctional Institution – Norfolk is located in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Correctional Institution – Norfolk
Location in Massachusetts
LocationNorfolk, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°07′09″N 71°18′15″W / 42.11917°N 71.30417°W / 42.11917; -71.30417Coordinates: 42°07′09″N 71°18′15″W / 42.11917°N 71.30417°W / 42.11917; -71.30417
Security classMedium
CapacityOperational Capacity: 1,473 Operational Occupancy: 85%
Managed byMassachusetts Department of Correction
DirectorSuperintendent Nelson Alves

Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk, or MCI-Norfolk, is a medium security prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Department of Correction.Though it is rated medium security, it also houses up to 98 maximum security inmates. Opened in the early 1930s, MCI-Norfolk is the largest state prison in Massachusetts. On January 6, 2020, there were 1,251 inmates in general population beds.[1]

One of the notable inmates of MCI-Norfolk was Malcolm X, who was also a member of the Norfolk Debating Society while incarcerated.


MCI-Norfolk was founded in 1927 as the Norfolk Prison Colony, a "model prison community"[2] conceived by sociologist and penologist Howard Belding Gill (Harvard 1913, M.B.A. 1914), who was appointed its first superintendent in 1931.[3]

Gill was dismissed in 1934 after an escape by four inmates, and replaced by his deputy Maurice N. Winslow, who served as superintendent from 1934 to 1950. The name of the prison was changed to the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk in the mid-1950s.

Famous civil rights activist Malcolm X was incarcerated at Norfolk, and he attended the prison school, where he furthered his education beyond the eighth grade. The prison school and library are where he picked up his love of reading and where he learned how to articulate and debate his points in an argument, as he was part of the Norfolk Debating Society. He has even stated that he began his education here by copying down an entire dictionary word for word, learning the words and refining his handwriting the whole time.[4]

During the 1950s, the Norfolk Debating Society, a team consisting of prison inmates, beat a number of university teams including the Oxford Union at Oxford University.

A fraternity of lay Dominicans, some of whom have made their final profession in the order, has been formed through Sister Ruth Raichle, the Catholic chaplain in Norfolk.[5]

Officer Deaths at Norfolk[edit]

On July 31, 1972, Corrections Officers Alfred Baranowski and James Souza were shot and killed by an inmate using a smuggled firearm during an escape attempt. In the officers' memory, the Department of Corrections named their new supermax prison the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.

COVID-19 Cases[edit]

Pursuant to the Supreme Judicial Court's April 3, 2020 Opinion and Order in the Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court, SJC-12926 matter, as amended on April 10, April 28 and June 23, 2020 (the “Order”), the Special Master posts weekly reports which are located on the SJC website here for COVID testing and cases for each of the correctional facilities administered by the Department of Correction and each of the county Sheriffs’ offices. The SJC Special master link above has the most up to date information reported by the correctional agencies and is posted for the public to view.

On December 4, 2020, a prisoner at MCI-Norfolk died from complications of COVID-19. On the day of his death, there were 41 prisoners reported with active cases.[6][7]

Prison Address[edit]

2 Clark Street
PO Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056


  1. ^ "Weekly inmate count".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Johnsen, Thomas C., "Vita: Howard Belding Gill: Brief Life of a Prison Reformer: 1890-1989" Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, Harvard Magazine, September–October 1999, p. 54.
  3. ^ Conrad, John P., "A Lost Ideal, a New Hope: The Way toward Effective Correctional Treatment", Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-), Vol. 72, No. 4 (Winter, 1981), pp. 1699-1734.
  4. ^ Haley, A. (1965). The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Retrieved from
  5. ^ A Dominican lay chapter among Norfolk inmates, Christine Williams, Dominican Life - USA.
  6. ^ Becker, Deborah. "MCI-Norfolk Prisoner Death Presumed To Be COVID-Related". WBUR. No. 7 December 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  7. ^ "SJC-12926-Special-Master's-Weekly-Report-121020.pdf |". Retrieved 2020-12-30.