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CAMPAIGN ’88 : Contempt Order Sought

The Justice Department has asked a federal court in Boston to hold Dukakis in contempt of court over Massachusetts’ failure to obey an order to remedy unconstitutional conditions at Worcester State Hospital.

The unannounced filing Monday, which names Dukakis and five other state officials, marks only the second instance that the department’s civil rights division has sought a contempt order in 25 consent decrees obtained since 1980 under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, spokesman Mark Weaver said.

The court order to improve conditions at the mental hospital was issued on Aug. 25, 1987. Last spring, Massachusetts submitted reports on investigations into recent deaths at the state institution, acknowledging that “inadequate care” may have contributed to at least three of the deaths.

Dukakis signed the consent decree as Massachusetts’ chief executive, and Weaver said it is customary for the department to name a state’s highest officer as a defendant in any legal proceeding.

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Under the contempt order sought by the government, the commonwealth would be ordered to pay $25,000 a day until it complies with the requirements of the order.


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