MCI-Framingham is a prison for women, described by the state of Massachusetts as "a medium security reception and diagnostic center housing females." Families for Justice as Healing (FJAH), a group committed to ending incarceration for women and girls, has reported that the conditions in MCI-Framingham are "undeniably bad," with incarcerated people at this facility facing "rodents, polluted water, mold, and asbestos." FJAH further reports, "conditions at MCI-Framingham have drawn the ire of environmental health inspectors for years. In its most recent public health inspection in January 2020, the Community Sanitation Program (CSP) of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health discovered 116 repeat environmental health violations at MCI-Framingham that DOC [Department of Correction] had failed to resolve since its prior inspection in June 2019."
The state of Massachusetts now aims to build a new (and supposedly "improved") women's prison to replace MCI-Framingham, and groups such as FJAH have been working to stop the construction of this new prison, advocating that the state should instead incarcerate less people. Activists from FJAH identified the design and architecture firms the State of MA chose to work on the construction of the prison (such as Kleinfelder Northeast, Feingold Alexander, and HDR Architecture). These firms support the state of MA's "progressive" carceral ideology, promising to design prisons that will support the physical and mental health of inmates, whitewashing over the inherently violent and harmful nature of caging human beings. The firm Kleinfelder Northeast's proposal to the state, for example, promised that their new prison would provide "gender-responsive programming" to help incarcerated women deal with trauma, while boasting about their past construction of a prison that had "dayroom spaces" and that was designed with "soft colors."
Rather than build such "improved" prisons, FJAH has called instead for "decarceration through prevention" (among other initiatives), which means "investing in housing, mental health care, community-based programs and services, addiction treatment, education, employment, and economic opportunity will address the reasons why women are arrested and further decrease incarceration rates." FJAH and allied groups have also called for a moratorium on the construction of jails and prisons.
Further reading on MCI-Framingham
- Association/Collaboration – Finegold Alexander & Associates
Finegold Alexander & Associates was one of the firms that bid on the Massachusetts state project to build a new women's prison to replace the MCI-Framingham Prison. The construction of the new prison was opposed by community members and abolitionist groups such as Families for Justice as Healing (FJAH). Architecture firms like Finegold Alexander provide a "progressive" veneer for incarceration by promising improved or friendlier prisons. For example, an article in CommonWealth journal from 2020 states that "Finegold Alexander has extensive experience designing justice facilities for the state of Massachusetts and the firm is teaming with HOK Architects, a firm that focuses on correctional facility design that is responsive to the needs of incarcerated women. HOK specializes in 'gender-responsive planning' and has designed inmate housing that allows children to sleep with their mothers." Such firms therefore provide both material and ideological support for the carceral state.
- Partnership/Ownership/Membership – HDR Architecture
In 2019, the state of Massachusetts announced another $50 million project to construct a new women's prison at the Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk, which would replace MA's dangerous and crumbling MCI-Framingham facility. In 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance selected HDR to from among architectural firms seeking a contract from the state of MA for the "study and design" of this new women's prison in Norfolk, and in June 2021 the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance signed a contract with HDR for the project. In their bid for the contract for the "study and design" of the state of MA's new prison in Norfolk, HDR attempted to characterize their vision for the new prison as "trauma-informed," a characterization which community members rejected as a crass and offensive attempt to whitewash over the violent realities of caging human beings.
- Association/Collaboration – Kleinfelder Northeast
Kleinfelder Northeast put in a proposal for a state contract to build a new women's prison to replace MCI-Framingham. In the proposal, Kleinfelder attempted to whitewash over the inherently violent and dehumanizing realities of caging human beings in prions, highlighting that, if selected by the state of MA, they would create a prison which would include "gender-responsive programming," and boasting that prisons Kleinfelder had previously constructed were designed with "soft colors" and included "dayroom spaces" which let in natural light. These proposals have been rejected by abolitionist groups, such as the group Families for Justice as Healing (FJAH) – run by formerly incarcerated women – and exposed as an attempt to sanitize the brutal practice of putting human beings in cages.