Tell MA Officials: End Medical Neglect — Today, March 6!

At this moment, the DOC is in the process of finalizing their evaluation of bidders. There is still time to amend and negotiate the contract language to maximize protection of incarcerated people – we must urge Governor Healey and DOC Commissioner Carol Mici to do this now.

Below, you will find instructions and an email template to send. You may also click this link to see a view-only version.


Email Commissioner Carol Mici:

Email Gov. Maura Healey: (if using this option, copy/paste full URLs for each resource into the email. See links at bottom of page.)

Email Kate Cook (Chief of Staff):

<Governor Healey/Commissioner Mici>,

My name is <name> and <I am a resident of <city>/a concerned community member> writing today to call for an end to medical neglect in Massachusetts prisons. In the coming month, decisions will be made that affect the next several years of medical care for some of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents. 

The U.S. Constitution requires prison officials to provide adequate medical care to all persons incarcerated in state and federal prisons, as well as pretrial detainees [Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976)]. Despite this, people incarcerated in Massachusetts state prisons and jails continue to be neglected. 

I call on you to take into consideration all of the resources provided and use your power to amend and negotiate the contract to ensure that medical neglect cannot continue.

Please refer to these materials for more information during this important decision-making process:

Letter from Senators Markey and Warren
DeeperThanWater’s requested RFR language
Albany Medical College’s Community Grand Rounds on the prison healthcare system
Stories of medical neglect in MA prisons

Thank you,



Full URLs for the governor’s email form:

Petition/Demands (

Letter from Senators Markey and Warren (

Report (

DeeperThanWater’s requested RFR language (

Albany Medical College’s Community Grand Rounds on the prison healthcare system (

Stories of medical neglect in MA prisons (

End Medical Neglect in Massachusetts Prisons

We’ve heard several stories from folks inside about the horrific healthcare they’ve received, even before the pandemic.

Healthcare in the Massachusetts DOC is at an absolute crisis, and incarcerated organizers want to make sure their voices are heard.

If you have stories of medical neglect in Massachusetts prisons, please let us know by using this secure form or emailing directly.

End the Contract with Wellpath, Before I go Blind

By: Ronald Leftwich

Prisons and jails across the US are failing our communities. Countless incarcerated people in the US are receiving negligent medical care from a for-profit company called Wellpath. This corrupt and deeply negligent medical provider – which is owned by private equity firm H.I.G. Capital – was sued at least 1,395 times in federal court between 2008 to 2018. Locally, horror stories about Wellpath’s negligence are being revealed across the country, from California to North Carolina. Recent reports have exposed Wellpath’s egregious health care services in immigration detention centers, as well as the company’s failure to control COVID-19 outbreaks in incarcerated populations. 

Despite Wellpath’s record, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) has contracted with Wellpath to provide medical care for all people incarcerated in state prisons. In Massachusetts, as elsewhere, Wellpath has subjected incarcerated people – who are unable to receive care elsewhere – to undue suffering and negative health outcomes.

I know this because I’m incarcerated in a state prison in Massachusetts, and I am going blind.

I suffer from severe glaucoma, an eye disease that causes loss of vision. When treated appropriately, vision loss due to glaucoma can be slowed or stopped. Without proper treatment, this illness can cause complete blindness that is irreversible. Because Massachusetts has hired Wellpath, I fear I am on this path.

[ For more in this series, read: Interview with Shorty Mac ]

In July of 2020, an ophthalmologist at Boston Medical Center, growing alarmed by the progression of my glaucoma, scheduled me for immediate corrective eye surgery to prevent further loss of vision. When September arrived, and I still had not heard from Wellpath about the surgery, I began writing letters to Wellpath, asking about the surgery. For months, I received no response. Finally, in November, I began receiving notices stating that the surgery had been scheduled. Yet, when I saw a Wellpath nurse in December, she looked at my record and told me, “I do not see any mention of surgery of any kind.” She promised me that she would look into the matter and get back to me. Several more months passed and I heard nothing. Frustrated and concerned, I wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Corrections asking her to intervene on my behalf and assist me in getting my surgery. I received no response to my letter. 

I then asked a friend in the community to contact the Commissioner’s office. My friend’s call prompted a response and Wellpath finally scheduled my surgery. On June 8th, 2021 – nearly one year after my ophthalmologist called for immediate surgery – I underwent micropulse laser surgery for my glaucoma. 

Many incarcerated people don’t have a friend or family member to advocate on their behalf. I’m not sure my surgery would have ever been scheduled if not for my friend’s call. 

But even after my surgery, I still struggled to get the recovery care I needed. I was refused shades for my windows, even though dark lighting is necessary for recovery. Now, I am waiting on Wellpath to schedule this surgery for my other eye. When I was last brought to an appointment with my ophthalmologist at BMC, she expressed concern at the way Wellpath has continuously pushed back the dates of my appointments.

Due to Wellpath’s negligence, my eyesight has continued to deteriorate in ways that could be prevented by basic treatments. I now take eight prescription medications to control my glaucoma. When I run out of these prescriptions, refilling them is never a certainty. I always let the Wellpath nursing staff know that I need a refill one week prior to running out of these prescriptions. Still, Wellpath rarely refills them on time. Due to this negligence, I often go two to five days without them, despite my best efforts to follow my doctor’s orders. Without consistent access to these medications, I may quickly lose what is left of my vision.  

Sadly, my experience is not unique. There are many cases even more egregious than mine.

This raises many questions. Why has Massachusetts given Wellpath its stamp of approval? Why have they handed responsibility for the health care of thousands of individuals over to a medical provider that is well known for providing negligent care?

If a just and moral society is to be measured by anything, should we not first look to see how that society cares for those who lack the opportunity to care for themselves – those who are sick, elderly, incarcerated or homeless? Should we allow institutions and structures to exist that do not care for these populations, all the while profiting off of them?

Any moral society would call for the immediate removal and abolishment of institutions that did not treat these vulnerable citizens with adequate care and concern. The Massachusetts DOC has an obligation to drop their contract with Wellpath and ensure that incarcerated people in this state receive the medical care they need.

Help us get surveys designed by organizers incarcerated in Massachusetts into the hands of prisoners:

For more in this series, read: Interview with Shorty Mac

End Medical neglect in Massachusetts Prisons

Update: November 13, 2018

Thank you to everyone who came out to support Roger and call for an end to the medical neglect that is killing our loved ones and community members inside.

Balloons for Roger [ Vimeo ]


original interview here: Boston Neighborhood News. Backup: [ Mayfirst MP4 ]

original post: November 1, 2018

Medical neglect is prevalent in Massachusetts Department of Corrections and killing prisoners – our loved ones and family members. This week, we heard Roger Herbert’s story through his niece, Sophia Bishop-Rice. We demand justice for our fallen.

Roger has been held prisoner by the DOC for 28 years, and died two weeks ago at age 48. He is remembered by Sophia, his twin brother Ronald and found family inside prison as a role model, loyal, deeply compassionate and self-sacrificing.

Roger’s health began deteriorating noticeably in April of 2018, suffering from jaundice, a persistent cough and rapid weight loss. At $4 per visit, he consistently chose repeated medical visits over purchasing necessities like food and hygiene products at canteen or purchasing phone minutes to communicate with family members.

The DOC refused to provide any further testing until Sophia demanded it directly from the DOC Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. Even then, Roger and his family received no diagnoses or further information for weeks after an MRI was conducted. It was only after he collapsed in the showers at MCI Norfolk in September that he was finally told he had angiosarcoma. Although she was his health care proxy and emergency contact, Sophia was only informed of Roger’s hospitalization after she tried to add money to his phone account and found he was at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital.

In his final weeks, Roger and Sophia were granted just one visit per week at the hospital. The superintendent granted one additional visit per week, but denied Sophia’s attempt at a third visit the week of Roger’s death because it was not “imminent” by the DOC’s definition.

During his “compassionate care treatment” at the hospital, he suffered inhumanely: medication affecting his bowels caused him to have diarrhea all over himself and his attempt for five minutes to use his nurse call button, which was found to be broken – even though he was supposedly on fifteen minute eye checks and two hour in-room service. During Sophia’s Wednesday visit, his required oxygen supply was not in place and he fell once the week before and once the week of his death due to inattention and consistent neglect.

His found family inside prison, his brother, and his niece all describe how he spent his 28 years in prison working tirelessly to support the other people inside. Those of you who follow our work know that those 28 years were also marked by deteriorating and toxifying water conditions at MCI Norfolk and other Massachusetts prisons. Directly or indirectly, environmental contamination and medical neglect and abuse led to Roger’s death.

To get at the magnitude of the person who has been taken from us: In a beautiful act of solidarity, his loved ones inside – those with jobs making at most $3/day, or receiving cash assistance from family member who find it difficult to make ends meet – pulled together enough money to cover his cremation and memorial expenses, a little over $2,000.00. Sparing his neice the daunting task of trying to raise the money.

We hold close all of those who escape the clutches of the Massachusetts DOC. And we grieve those who die at their hands.

We also call you to action – on Sunday, November 11, immediately following Roger’s memorial service, we will host a vigil and speak out to share the stories of those we have lost and fight like hell for the living.

Get Romano to a doctor now!

Thank you to everyone
who called! Romano is 
being actively treated by 
an outside physician now. 
Thanks for all your help. 


From time to time, we get requests from folks inside that a particular prisoner has been the victim of medical neglect. Such is the case with Romano Newball. Here is the text posted this morning via Facebook

We received word last night about Romano Newball, a 77-year-old at MCI-Norfolk with a terrible flesh-eating rash all over his body. The prison medical has given him an anti-fungal cream but it is not helping at all. The prison is refusing to let him see an outside doctor to diagnose and treat him. Romano is in a great deal of pain and needs proper medical care.

We know from past experience that your calls are effective and necessary. Please call MCI-Norfolk today at 508-660-5900, extension 299 and ask to speak to the superintendent. Demand that the prison allow Romano to see a doctor outside of the prison to receive proper medical care!



Update: Thank you to all the amazing folks who have called in already! Callers are reporting back that the DOC is insisting that Romano receives “the same medical care” as all prisoners. We don’t dispute this: Romano is a victim of a system that is deliberately understaffed and underfunded. Our Coalition has received first-hand accounts from folks inside, corroborated by dozens of people, of medical ailments that started out small, but have grown in severity due to non-treatment. By the time the DOC refers prisoners out to proper treatment, often the disease has progressed to do irreversible damage. DOC medical staff are often underqualified, and there are frequently single staff members for entire facilities.


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