Prisoners with mental disabilities claim discrimination by Massachusetts Parole Board (GBH)

Below is an excerpt from an August 3 article published by GBH detailing prisoners claims of discrimination by the Massachusetts Parole Board. Prisoners Legal Services’ (PLS) Litigation Director James Pingeon is quoted.

Three state prisoners are claiming in a state lawsuit that the Massachusetts Parole Board has discriminated against them because of their mental health disabilities, and that the board’s actions have effectively denied them a road to freedom.

The prisoners — named in court documents as John Doe 1, 2 and 3 — say the state parole board is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide accommodations to them because of their disabilities. That includes failing to assign counsel to support people with mental disabilities during complex parole hearings and penalizing parole candidates for their conduct and appearance related to their disabilities.

They also say the state has “essentially ignored” directives in a 2017 Supreme Judicial Court decision to support people with disabilities to develop “appropriate” release plans to the community.

James Pingeon, litigation director at Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, who represents one of the plaintiffs, told GBH News on Thursday that he is hopeful the lawsuit will lead to positive outcome for the many prisoners with mental illness behind bars.

Read more at GBH.