Alex Phillips denied second petition for compassionate release

In the same heartless manner that Thomas Turco III has historically shown, he has elected to turn down Alexander Phillip’s second petition for compassionate release.   Ann Burke, Alex’s mother wrote on The Factual’s Facebook page:

“Good morning, 

We received an answer late yesterday afternoon.. once again Alex was denied release to come home. The answer came in 8 pages of Bullshit. Turco actually said:

 “I do not believe Mr.Phillips is Terminally ill within the meaning of the statute. Specfically, even though Alex’s Oncologist, who is employed by the DOC, wrote that he has less than 12 months to live and is so incapacitated as to not be a threat to public safety, I ( Turco) do not find him so debilitated as to not be a public safety risk” 

Alex is unable to open a package of cookies or a juice bottle. As you heard on NPR, he spends most of his time in bed only up to get medications or food. If you want to do something Call or Write to your local elected officials and ask them to make modifications to the current statue or to create a bill for Alex to let him come home. And Ask them to Do It Now!! Not in January when they are back in Full Session. Call or write the Governor.. who didn’t want this statue and is making an example out of Alex. 

I cannot tell you how sad I am and my family.. This is Not a Political Game, this is someone’s Life.”


We at the #DeeperThanWater Coalition join Ann in expressing our profound anger and disgust, not only at this decision, but at a system so soulless that it would make private promises to a family experiencing tremendous hardship only to betray them in a time of need. Turco demonstrates in this decision his unwillingness and disinterest in rehabilitation, as well as the arbitrariness of his decisions and policies. To disregard the professional opinion of doctors, therapists and psychologists, to misrepresent the findings of the 2009 “dangerousness assessment” (as was reported by WBUR) and to then publicly make a statement defaming a dying man is a perfect microcosm of Tom Turco’s approach to “correction”.

A career political bureaucrat, Turco has gone out of his way to silence prisoners who speak out about their rights and to punish those who suggest that there must be a better way to do this.

In many ways, Alex represents a fundamental threat to people like Tom Turco, as he demonstrates the tremendous possibility for self-change that people have. People like Turco, who is dependent on the prison industrial complex for power and wealth, have made an empire out of reassuring the public that the possibility for self-change does not exist. It is because of him that the recidivism rate in Massachusetts is so high. After all, if someone like Alex Phillips, who has been a “model prisoner” cannot receive compassion from the DOC, what incentive do prisoners have to better their lives?

In reporting  on the first time Turco denied Alex’s release, Boston Globe journalist Yvonne Abraham wrote on June 28, 2018:

He has also been a model prisoner, participating in every program he could find, tutoring other inmates, and recently receiving a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Greenberg says he has not been involved in a single fight in 10 years.

If he is released, Phillips’s mother, Ann Burke, an oncology nurse who has worked in hospice, would care for her son in her home, and would buy him private health insurance, so that his care would not be a burden to taxpayers. Norfolk’s superintendent, who knows Phillips and can well assess whether he poses a danger to society, has supported his release.


Abraham’s article was called “At Department of Correction, a Death of Compassion” and can be found here. This past Thursday, Alex and Ann appeared on NPR to talk about the pain of waiting to find out if Alex can come home.

#DeeperThanWater is committed to continuing to fight for Alex to come home and is in the process of organizing a response to the (admittedly predictable) ongoing refusal of the state to act justly.

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