Middlesex County

Lawmakers take tour of state prison where a correction officer was attacked

SHIRLEY, Mass. — Lawmakers spent the afternoon in MCI Shirley learning more about what happened when a correction officer was attacked in August. The state says Matthew Tidman was attacked from behind by an inmate in the medium-security facility.

Correctional Officer Tidman was on patrol near the gym inside MCI Shirley when the attack happened in August. His family has been by his side for weeks and his father, who did not want to appear on camera, was thankful lawmakers are taking an interest in making prisons safer. “The administration is capable of managing prisons so that there are not conditions that are not harmful to all of the CO’s, officers, any of the workers in the prisons,” said Tidman’s father.

The Department of Correction says Tidman was hit from behind with a piece of gym equipment. Union officials say he fell to the floor where he was repeatedly hit again. It was later learned the inmate had a violent history, but the union says because he was transferred from Virginia, he may have been misclassified. Kevin Flanagan is the Legislative Representative for Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union. “They are bad individuals and us as correction officers, we are entrusted in care and custody and control of those inmates, but it is very hard to do when the classification system is being pushed down on us,” Flanagan.

State Rep. Timothy Whelen put together a bi-partisan tour to learn more about what happened. “He came in with no negative points on his record despite the fact he had a series of assaults on staff in Virginia,” said Whelen. Representatives Shawn Dooley, Mike Soter and Steven Xiarhos were also on the tour. “There is a lot of frustration in that room. A lot of men and women that are truly upset, truly hurting and truly in a lot of pain, a lot of anger,” said Dooley. “The big takeaway was how understaffed they were, how stressed they were,” said Soter. “People need to be held fully accountable, that was a big message,” said Xiarhos.

Tidman’s father hopes his son returns to work one day and sees a safer place to work. “I think that has to be a focus goal which is to advocate change and eliminate ineptitude,” Tidman’s father said.

Tidman is still in the hospital on life support and we are told he is making very, very slow progress. The state says the Middlesex District Attorney continues to investigate what happened.

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