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Mass. max-security prison installing bunk beds

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Mass. max-security prison installing bunk beds

Prison officials are installing bunk beds for the first time at the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.

Department of Correction spokeswoman Diane Wiffin says the extra beds are needed to address overcrowding created by a record number of inmates in the state.

The department had an inmate population of 11,368 as of Sept. 1. That’s a 10 percent increase since 2005. It also broke the previous record of 11,158 set in 1999.

Not everyone welcomes the bunk beds.

Steve Kenneway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, told the Boston Herald that the extra beds create a security risk.

Inmate advocates also oppose the move, saying it poses a risk to both guards and prisoners.

Opponents of state income tax repeal raise $1.5M

Organized labor contributed nearly $1.5 million to opponents of a ballot question that would repeal the state income tax.

Campaign finance reports released last Friday show that the Coalition for Our Communities raised just over $1.5 million between January and August. Almost all of it came from labor unions.

The Committee for Small Government supports the income tax repeal. It had not posted its financial information as of early Friday evening.

Cutting the income tax would reduce by nearly 40 percent the amount of money that Massachusetts takes in each year. Critics say the proposal would cripple government, while supporters argue that taxpayers would save thousands of dollars per year.

Meanwhile, the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, which supports decriminalizing minor marijuana possession, raised more than $219,000. The measure has numerous critics, but no registered opponent raising money. 

Harvard officer on leave denies profiling

NEEDHAM, Mass. — A Harvard University police officer involved in an incident that sparked a review of possible racial profiling by campus police says she has done nothing wrong.

In an interview at her lawyer’s office with Boston newspapers, Officer Theresa McAuliffe says she is being used as a scapegoat by the university.

McAuliffe admits drawing her gun when she and her partner approached a young black man last month as he was trying to cut the lock off his bike because the key had broken. She says she never pointed it at him, and she never heard her partner berate him with profanity, as the youth who had a summer job at the university claimed.

Harvard declined comment, citing the ongoing investigation. McAuliffe and her partner are on paid leave and face possible termination.

Patrick says casino talks with tribe premature

Gov. Deval Patrick is turning down a request from the Mashpee Wampanoags to start formal talks on a state compact allowing a $1 billion tribal casino in Middleborough.

The tribe asked for the talks in a letter last Tuesday.

The state last Friday released its response that it’s “premature” to begin gambling talks before the federal government acts on the tribe’s application to place the casino land in trust.

The state is encouraging the tribe to continue ongoing informal talks with the Patrick administration.

Tribal spokeswoman Amy Lambiaso said it looks forward to continuing talks, and still hopes to begin the casino discussions as soon as possible.

The state isn’t obligated to negotiate until the land trust application is approved. The tribe hopes that will happen next spring, but it could take much longer.

MBTA boosts subway, bus service

The MBTA is responding to seven consecutive months of increased ridership by adding subway cars and buses to some routes.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which attributes the surge in people taking public transportation to increased gas prices, says ridership jumped 10 percent in July compared to July 2007. About 34.7 million people took the subway, commuter rail and buses in July, the single best month for MBTA ridership in at least a decade.

The agency is increasing rush hour capacity on the subway’s Red, Green and Blue lines to make commutes less crowded and more comfortable.

The T is also running additional buses on some lines, especially those serving city neighborhoods.

General Manager Daniel Grabauskas says the changes will improve quality and reliability.

(Associated Press)