CPR Submits Written Testimony on H2985 – An Act Transferring Bridgewater State Hospital from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Mental Health

CPR urged the Massachusetts legislature to transfer the oversight of Bridgewater State Hospital from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Mental Health in written testimony provided to the Joint Committee on State and Regulatory Oversight.  DMH policies would better protect patient rights consistent with Massachusetts law – especially in areas such as physical and chemical restraint and seclusion.  This is especially significant given the over-representation of Black and Latinx people held at Bridgewater State Hospital, and studies that show that Black people experience disproportionately higher rates of chemical and physical restraint in psychiatric settings.   

CPR noted that “the overwhelming national trend for the oversight and administration of forensic hospitals is not through the Department of Corrections – but through the state’s mental health agency…Massachusetts is only one of two states in the country that holds forensic clients and civilly committed mental health persons in prison facilities.”  The transfer of Bridgewater to DMH would be in line with best practices, produce better outcomes for patients from vulnerable communities, and would facilitate more humane, dignified, legally appropriate, and non-discriminatory treatment of people with mental illness who are subject to secure custody in the Commonwealth.