This ICE-Contracted County Jail Is the ‘Worst’ in Massachusetts

“Once you’ve done time in the Bristol County House of Corrections, you won’t want to come back.”

This sentiment comes from Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who boasted about his jail back in 2010. The facility has earned a reputation as being the worst jail in Massachusetts, yet Hodgson remains proud of the tough-on-crime image he and his office have cultivated over the years.

But to hear accounts from those who have actually spent time at the Bristol County jail, it begins to sound as though maybe Hodgson doesn’t have a whole lot to brag about.

Though it is primarily a county jail, the Bristol County House of Corrections has been working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help house their detainees. And with the mounting public outrage over the aggressive detaining and deporting campaigns conducted under the Trump administration, Bristol County is finding itself increasingly under the microscope. Immigrants who’ve stayed there continue to share accounts of gross abuse and neglect.

Sahim Byah, an immigrant from Morocco, was unfortunate enough to experience some of the worst Bristol County House of Corrections had to offer.

Byah wound up in ICE custody, she believes, due to her outspoken advocacy for immigrant rights. Even though she was living in the Boston area at the time, Byah was sent to Bristol County rather than a nearer jail — a decision she says was made in order to undermine her support system. Outraged, Byah eventually began a hunger strike to protest her treatment and the poor conditions at the jail.

In response, jail staff moved Byah to solitary confinement. Less than four days later, she called off her strike. Byah says she felt she had little choice after staff threatened to “strip me, tie me down and then shove food down my throat” because ICE feared the optics of having a detainee starve to death in their custody. Predictably, an official from the jail says that Byah’s allegations are “100 percent false.”

A jail like the one in Bristol County is typically used to hold convicted inmates who are serving out their sentence. But because it is also subcontracted by ICE, it holds pretrial detainees — that is, people who have yet to be convicted at all. According to immigrants who’ve been detained in Bristol County, they are treated just like convicts.

This includes population mixing between the convict and immigrant groups, which some detainees felt was unsafe. Pretrial detainees are also disciplined in the same ways as inmates — including the use of solitary confinement, as in Byah’s case. Such a punishment could stretch from a week to a whole month.

One former immigrant detainee says that guards doled out this punishment on a whim; in one case, a person was put in solitary for not responding immediately when summoned and in another, for verbally expressing frustration toward a guard.

Though jail representatives have disputed these claims, a 2016 ICE report showed that many people jailed in Bristol County were given hardly any mental health support. It also found that jail staff administered psychotropic medications to detainees without their consent in six of the ten cases reviewed.

No doubt medical abuse such as this and the jail’s general disregard for inmates’ mental health contributed to perhaps the most shameful fact about Bristol County House of Corrections: Though it houses only 12 percent of Massachusetts county jail inmates, it accounts for one in four inmate suicides.

Take Action!

Something is very rotten at the Bristol County House of Corrections. With tough guy Sheriff Thomas Hodgson at the wheel — a man who once suggested that his immigrant detainees should be exploited to build Trump’s border wall — it should surprise absolutely no one to learn of these disgusting civil rights abuses. It’s time that the Bristol County jail be shuttered.

Tell Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that her state’s worst jail cannot be allowed to continue to operate under her watch. Add your name to this Care2 petition and make your voice heard!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

 

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr

43 comments

Marie W
Marie W11 days ago

thanks for posting

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson5 months ago

Thank you.

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE6 months ago

Okay

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Jack Y
Jack Y6 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y6 months ago

thanks

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Fiona Ogilvie
Fiona Ogilvie6 months ago

More putrid yellow journalism under the byline Llowell.

Wake up other people at Care 2. County jails everywhere in the US, are better than private prisons in the US in terms of HUMAN RIGHTS.

Make a donation ot Amnesty International... do some real good for prisoners in all countries...

Don't read any more contrived articles under the bylines Llowell, Kevin, Robin...and do not share articles motivated by hate on social media.

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Janis K
Janis K6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Danii P
Past Member 6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Danii P
Past Member 6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Danii P
Past Member 6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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