Prisoners’ Legal Services is a Massachusetts nonprofit legal services office founded in 1972 that provides civil legal assistance to the approximately 20,000 people incarcerated in Massachusetts state prisons (Department of Correction facilities) and county jails and houses of correction. The organization promotes the safe, humane and lawful treatment of Massachusetts prisoners through civil rights litigation, administrative advocacy, client counseling, and outreach to policy makers and the public.
THE CASE: Prisoners’ Legal Services is challenging the Massachusetts law, M.G.L. c. 123, § 35, that authorizes the involuntary civil commitment of men suffering from alcohol and substance use disorders to Department of Correction prisons. Massachusetts is the only state in the country where men are civilly committed to a correctional institution for substance use. All other states recognize what public health experts know: addiction is not a crime for which people should be punished, but a medical condition that cries out for treatment.
James Pingeon, Litigation Director
Prisoners' Legal Services
50 Federal Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02110