Plymouth County Correctional Facility

The primary mission of the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department is dedication to strengthening public safety through corrections and specialized support services for all criminal justice agencies. The Department maintains a secure facility for offenders being held or sentenced for crimes as well as preparing them for reintegration back into society.

The Plymouth County Correctional Facility provides a safe, humane and orderly correctional environment which encourages inmates to seek opportunities to strengthen their character. Inmates are presented with activities to aid them in developing a work ethic, religion, education and understanding the consequences of their own choices.

The Sheriff is committed to operating an accredited correctional facility which meets:

- Nationally recognized standards for local houses of correction, jails & detention facilities
- State and local standards
- Serves the interests of taxpayers

It is the philosophy of the Sheriff's Department to hold the offender at the lowest possible levels of security, consistent with public safety, with an appropriate range of services that recognize the individual needs of offenders.

Another part of the Department mission is to protect society from criminal offenders while at the same time providing a professional and rewarding environment for staff.

Read portions of one reporter’s story on PCCF:

Inside The County Jail
By Lydia Mulvany of the Marshfield Mariner
Tue Apr 29, 2008

The prison is laid out along a “spine,” a long hallway that looks and smells uncomfortably clean, off of which 23units housing 1,600 men are joined — the largest inmate population under one roof in Massachusetts. There’s little traffic along the spine in a day, and the sound of footsteps disturbs the quiet. Any opening of doors — always gaily colored in bright blues or reds — or elevators is controlled by central control, a small, dark room full of computers, cameras and buttons that looks a little like something from the “Enterprise” on “Star Trek.” The doors are thick, and slide slowly open after permission is granted.

Most inmates live in either 139- or 62-man units, where tiers of cells surround a large, common room with two-storied ceilings. The cells don’t have bars, but heavy doors with a thick, solid window. They are tiny and monastic, with metal bunk beds and bare, faded white walls, chipped paint, a shared metal toilet in the corner and a seat like a flat metal spoon sticking out from the wall, underneath a writing surface.

The Plymouth County Correctional Facility opened its doors in 1994, and houses multiple jurisdictions: county, state, federal, Department of Youth Services and immigration inmates. There are also inmates with different levels of security. Asst. Superintendent Antone Moniz said the prison operates under a philosophy similar to community policing in that the days where the jailkeeper dragged his keys clanking over the bars as he policed the hall are over, replaced by officers in the pods milling with the inmates.

“A good officer will walk into his pod and know the pulse of it,” Moniz said.

In the common room, the inmates move freely about from 9 to 11 a.m., 1 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. The population is desegreated, and the atmosphere is lively and crowded. Inmates sit and chat in shabby lounge chairs watching the news on a small television, do pull-ups below the dark green stairwells and play chess or cards.

Some play basketball on the recreation deck, a shaded outside area bound by chain-link fences and barbed coils. There is a line of showers near the entrance and a line of payphones under the television. At noon, the inmates eat at picnic-style tables in the pods. The jail serves 6,000 meals per day.

There is a small canteen where prisoners can buy anything from Colgate toothpaste ($3.25 for 4.2 ounces) to Ramen noodles (50 cents) to a bag of Twizzlers ($1). Items that could be turned into weapons have been modified for prison: the toothbrushes are the kind you slip onto your finger.

“We’re almost like a small town,” said jail spokesman John Birtwell. “We have priests, an imam, a rabbi, doctors, dentists, even taxis.”

Farther down the spine is the administrative segregation unit, a prison within prison where inmates are locked up alone 23 hours a day.

Some inmates are there for their own protection, for instance, if they have cooperated with the government and would be labeled “snitches” or “rats.”

“We need to make sure the inmates come out as healthy as them come in,” Moniz said.

Other parts of the jail are the booking department, where inmates are interviewed and classified, their fingerprints taken and irises scanned; the transportation department, which transports 100 to 200 inmates a day to court and other appointments; the kitchen, where inmates cook food for the jail; a small library where GED classes are held; a gym for volleyball, basketball and general recreation; and an orientation unit where new inmates are educated about life in jail before going in.

Sheriff Joe McDonald Jr. said he had no worries about the operations of the prison, and he is proud of the many programs the prison offers inmates such as the 90-acre farm where inmates learn bout agriculture and the print shop, where inmates print and embroider T-shirts.

“I’m very proud of the correctional staff,” McDonald said. “This is the toughest beat in law enforcement, and I sleep well knowing our staff is here. They’re the best in the business.”

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