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Gov. Baker Announces Bridgewater State Hospital Overhaul

BOSTON (CBS) -- Gov. Charlie Baker announced an overhaul of the way the state's criminal justice system handles mentally ill inmates Tuesday.

State officials are calling the shift a new level of care and a complete culture change.

bridgewater state hospital
Bridgewater State Hospital. (WBZ-TV)

The changes will specifically affect Bridgewater State Hospital, moving it away from its current prison model and toward a more clinical approach with inmates.

Part of that plan includes moving mentally ill inmates convicted of state crimes out of the state hospital.

bridgewater state hospital overhaul
(WBZ-TV graphic)

In addition, every inmate would receive an individualized treatment plan within 10 days of their admission, and those on psychiatric medications would see a psychiatrist.

In the wake of Joshua Messier's death back in 2009 as guards wrestled him into restraints, contact between correctional officers and inmates would now be limited.

Josh Messier
Josh Messier died at Bridgewater State Hospital (WBZ-TV)

In a public statement, Senator Marc Pacheco attributed what he called "inadequate care," to private vendors contracted to the facility.

"I am concerned that the administration's continued use of private vendors for the facility's mental health services, as well as the possibility of private security, may result in inadequate care for one of our most vulnerable populations," Pacheco said. "If we're going to continue to use private vendors for this work, we need to ensure that the proper minimum care standards are in place from the start."

Other critics of the Governor's plan argue these additional services mean added costs--but according to the report, there's no estimate of the cost yet.

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