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Court Terminates MA Civil Commitment Center Injunction

The Massachusetts Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons is not a "prison" and persons civilly committed to it are not "prisoners" for purposes of the PLRA judgment termination provisions Persons committed to it received indeterminate sentences of one day to life to participate in an intensive treatment program However, in 1990 civil commitment was abolished and the facility was subsequently transferred to the control of the Department of Correction
At 138:

Massachusetts courts have repeatedly stressed that the residents at the Treatment Center are there for treatment, not for punishment and that they were sent there as civilly committed individuals, not as convicted criminals. ... Further, as noted above, at this writing there are eleven residents at the Center who were sent to the Treatment Center without ever receiving a criminal sentence. Of the remaining 165 residents, 89 have completed their criminal sentences and remain there solely on the basis of their civil commitment. Given the unique nature of the facility, the PLRA should not apply to the consent decrees governing Treatment Center operations.

(This appears to be debatable, since the implication of the numbers is that some residents are there under criminal commitment A "prison" is a facility that holds people "accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law"; the statute doesn't say that they have to be the only people there)

This discussion is arguably dictum because the court terminates the decrees anyway under the Dowell-Freeman standard (At 137: "I address this argument in the interest of completing the record for the purposes of cross appeals")

At 124: "Under Dowell, I must determine that the underlying constitutional wrong has been remedied and that the authorities have complied with the decrees in good faith for a reasonable period of time since they were entered." The court cites the First Circuit Rufo decision for more detail. It adds that if the inquiry is whether the consent decrees have corrected the conditions underlying the lawsuit, they have, and are no longer necessary to maintain those improvements. If the concern is that once the decrees are gone, the violations will be repeated, "the test becomes one of the sincerity, willingness and commitment of DOC to the Treatment Center's mission." (125) The court concludes that the institution provides effective treatment, improved physical conditions, differing security levels, meaningful programs, and due process in discipline. See: King v. Greenblatt, 53 F.Supp.2d 117 (D.Mass. 1999).

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Related legal case

King v. Greenblatt