Al Jazeera, the Mass. DOC and Freedom of the Press
CJPC gets requests for information and cooperation on a daily basis, and recently Al Jazeera, the Arabic news service, called. One of their producers wanted to do a television report in English on the increasing number of aged prisoners in United States jails. He somehow was aware that CJPC was advocating the compassionate release of prisoners who are so old or infirm as to be no risk to anyone. The producer, Jeremy Young, wanted to interview members of the Norfolk Lifers Group on camera. Despite all the contacts that CJPC has, the Mass. Department of Correction was adamant that no camera crews or interviews would be allowed. Al Jazeera was granted access to elderly and disabled inmates in prisons in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and New York. Their report includes an interview with the Commissioner of Corrections for Oklahoma. You can judge the quality of the report for yourself. (The following names are of people no longer in office: The Governor, the Executive Secretary of Public Safety, the Undersecretary of Public Safety, or the Commissioner of Corrections all could, anyone of them, change the DOC's policy of media exclusion with the stroke of a pen. The Massachusetts DOC should end its policy of blocking all direct media access to prisons and prisoners.