Shirley, MA: A 10-year veteran officer of the Massachusetts’s Correctional Institution in Shirley, MA is fighting for his life after he was violently attacked by an inmate wielding a 3-foot-long metal bar piece of gym equipment.
The officer, Matthew Tidman was on duty at the MCI in a medium/ minimum section of the prison when the attack occurred. He remains in critical condition in a coma as his family members nearby pray for his recovery.
The inmate and a convicted murdered attacked Officer Tidman with the ten-pound metal bar and hit him multiple times in the head, knocking him out. The severe blows caused brain bleeding and a broken skull.
The inmate has a long history of attacks against prison staff.
The attack caused public outrage which questioned the fact that gym equipment, which is inherently dangerous, was made available to dangerous inmates with violent pasts. One of those people outraged was a former co-worker of the Massachusetts’s Correctional system and friend to Tidman, Melissa George.
In an emotionally charged post, she openly criticized both the media for downplaying the incident and the Department of Corrections for their role in the neglect.
In her social media post she stated:
“Why are all the gyms in state prisons still open and being used by inmates with free range equipment that can be used as weapons, after you just saw what happened and can happen again.”
Her post continued:
“Why aren’t you closing the gyms statewide, removing all Mobil equipment, and replacing it all with stationary machines that can’t be dismantled or used as weapons?”
No information was available as to what led to the attack. However, it is not uncommon for inmates with violent tendencies to randomly attack someone without cause or without being triggered.
It is also sometimes triggered by a relatively minor issue, like the brand of medication has been changed for example. These inmates go on a violent rampage and later claim to have ‘blacked out’ and have no recollection of the incident.
The Correctional Classification System
Generally speaking, inmates are classified one of several different ‘classification levels’. These levels typically range from ‘close custody’ aka maximum custody level all the way down to minimum level.
Some states go beyond minimum custody level and are classified ‘community level custody’. This occurs in states that offer half-way houses for inmates to be housed outside a correctional setting. These inmates, who are still serving their sentence, are authorized to be out in public only to travel to and from work and are expected to return to their ‘half-way’ house.
Inmate’s classification status is determined by any inmate’s history and behavior in the correctional system, the seriousness of their crime, participation in rehabilitative programs and so on.
Correctional administrative staff then meet periodically to determine if an inmate’s custody level should be lowered or raised. In many circumstances, administrative staff will ‘gamble’ that an inmate will thrive and succeed if they are given additional privileges.
Administrative staff may also ‘rush’ into a decision. Political pressure may be added to correctional officials to reduce the inmate population and reduce maximum custody level inmates. This may cause administrative staff to prematurely change an inmate’s classification level purely to meet demands.
In a liberal state like Massachusetts, this is very possible.
With the purported violent history of this inmate’s violence against staff, it appears that someone in the administrative staff was asleep behind the wheel and approved this inmate to be around gym equipment.
Most prison’s nationwide severely limit the amount of gym equipment available to inmates for obvious reasons- they are quick and effective weapons.
It is unclear if Massachusetts’s correctional system removed the gym equipment and later replaced it as part of their progressive policies towards inmates or if they never removed such dangerous equipment in the first place.
Either way incompetence reared its ugly head and now a correctional officer is fighting for his life because of it.
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to provide financial support for the Tidman family.
According to the GoFundMe page:
“As many of you know Officer Matt Tidman was the victim of a brutal attack by an inmate while on duty. While Matt fights for his life and remains in critical condition, his family remains by his side. Matt is someone who is the first to lend a helping hand no matter the situation and now is our time to do the same for him and his family!”
If you wish to support the Tidman family, please go to their GoFundMe page.