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By Christopher Zoukis

In May 2009, Joshua Messier was killed at the Bridgewater State Hospital following an altercation with prison guards.  Mr. Messier was severely mentally ill and being housed at the state hospital for better management of his mental health issues.

While a total of seven prison guards were involved in the altercation in Messier’s cell which led to his untimely death, and the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, the investigation has still not been closed and none of the seven prison guards involved have been charged or disciplined.  According to the district attorney’s office, charges were never filed against the prison guards due to the medical examiner not being able to pinpoint a specific cause of death.

Until this point, Prisoners’ Legal Services has called on the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the local district attorney to close the investigation and hold those responsible for Mr. Messier’s death accountable for their actions, actions deemed murder by the medical examiner.  Now Prisoners’ Legal Services no longer stands alone.  The Prison Law Blog now joins Prisoners’ Legal Services in calling on not only the MA DOC and district attorneys to prosecute these governmental actors, but also for the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the inaction by these agencies.  To allow the state of Massachusetts to kill mentally ill prisoners without pause, as verified by the local medical examiner, is an affront to justice and the civil rights principles we in America hold so dear.

To learn more about Joshua Messier’s death — the failure of Massachusetts’ law enforcement to hold those responsible accountable — visit

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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