Haverhill state Rep. Andy Vargas is set to lead the charge for an update of the Department of Correction’s inmate classification policy, the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus said last week.
The group that aims to highlight concerns affecting people of color chose Vargas to serve as a stakeholder in discussions related to classification after successfully convincing the DOC to revise visitation rules.
In their plea to the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety last week, the group said some inmates have large families and friends who may not fit the traditional definition of a relative in order to be eligible to visit.
Under the change agreed to by the Department of Correction, inmates are now able to amend their visitor list quarterly. Inmates at maximum-security prisons are also able to list eight visitors instead of the current five, the Caucus said.
“Successful prisoner reentry back into their communities has a direct positive impact on public safety. These updates to the visiting policy will certainly help inmates to maintain positive community ties,” Secretary of Public Safety Thomas Turco said last week when the Caucus met with the Executive Office of Public Safety.
According to 2017 statistics, black and Hispanic inmates make up approximately 50 percent of the prison population.