An inmate at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater died Tuesday after an altercation with a fellow inmate and the incident is under investigation by State Police and Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz's office.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Correction today identified the deceased inmate as Joseph Harlow, who has been in state prison since 1996 following convictions for rape of a child under 16 and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
According to DOC spokeswoman Diane Wiffin, Harlow was in the day room at the medium security facility when he collapsed around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. He was rushed to Morton Hospital in Taunton where he was pronounced dead at 1:35 p.m.
Harlow was 47 years old.
Wiffin declined to provide any details on what transpired in the day room and referred questions to Cruz.
In a telephone interview, Cruz said the investigation has just started and it not yet known why Harlow died because the state medical examiner has not completed the autopsy.
"There was an altercation between one inmate and another inmate,'' Cruz said in a telephone interview today. "Following the altercation, the inmate was found unresponsive.''
The treatment center houses men who are civilly committed as sexually dangerous persons and who stay behind bars after their sentences are served. However, Harlow was not an SPD, but was a state prison inmate who was serving his sentence at the facility, which provides treatment programs for sex offenders.
Details of the crime that sent Harlow to prison were not immediately available today.
Leslie Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, which provides legal aid to prison inmates, said the Treatment Center is one of the more peaceful medium security facilities in the DOC system. She said convicted sex offenders like Harlow seek transfers there to complete treatment programs in hopes of getting paroled.
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