The New England Governors Conference decided yesterday to refer a report recommending the establishment of a regional "special offenders" prison to state correctional administrators for further study.
William J. Curran, Lee Professor of Legal Medicine, and Socio-Technical Systems of Boston wrote the $188,000 report.
The governors' resolution on the report instructs the officials of each New England state to "review, evaluate and adopt any provisions of the report that are applicable to correctional programs both on an individual state and joint basis."
The governors also praised Curran for what they called "an outstanding professional appraisal of a most complex in difficult problem."
Curran's report, which he filed two weeks ago, recommends the use of a federal prison to house the "special offenders" from the "obsolete" institutions of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. However, the study did not advise participation by the states of southern New England in a regional facility.
"Special offenders" were defined in the report as those inmates who "exhibit signs of serious mental disturbance" or "repeated aggressive behavior" that requires their "removal to another kind of more appropriate facility or treatment program to handle their special problems."
The decision of the six governors came the day after a public hearing at the conference at which some 100 members of the New England Prisoners Association protested the study.
Governor Francis W. Sargent has already rejected any Massachusetts participation in a regional facility for troublesome inmates.
Curran said last night that he thought the decision of the governors was "commendable" in view of the great controversy the plan has created.
He said he was "not disappointed at all" by the resolution because the purpose of the report was to "alert the governors to the magnitude of the problem they will be facing."