Walpole Prison Shutdown Halts PBH Volunteer Tutoring Work

Officials at Walpole Prison are refusing to allow student volunteers from Phillip Brooks House (PBH) to tutor prisoners since the closing of a section of the prison to outsiders following the November 15 murder of an inmate.

Larry Parnell, public information officer of the Department of Corrections said yesterday the maximum security block of Walpole is closed to all outsiders and 168 inmates are locked in their cells for all but about 15 minutes a day. Because the purpose of the lock-up is to cut down on violence by isolating the men, the 22 volunteers who tutor in the closed section are not allowed in.

"This is not a normal situation but rather a last resort, pending some structural changes in the prison," Parnell said, adding a corrections official would announce the changes at the end of the week.

"I think it is a form of cruel and unusual punishment," Peter Kohl '80, a PBH volunteer said yesterday. "I don't think it will improve things as much as it will cause a backlash of prison response."

James E. Jackson Jr., a member of the American Friends Service Committee and a former inmate in Walpole, speculated yesterday that the administration may be creating "a new super-maximum cell block where the men will be locked up 23 hours a day and will receive no programs and only one visitor a week."

"When you lock up people without windows, 23 hours a day for several weeks, they are affected physically and mentally. They come out bitter," Jackson said. "I think this time we are going to see more violent results and a more violent response," he added