Tag Archives: MCI Concord

Update: Civil Rights Lawsuit

Hi to everybody,

I wanted to give everyone a quick update on recent events regarding the civil rights lawsuit I filed against the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC).

As I’m sure you remember, last February (2016), prison officials here at MCI-Concord threatened me and then retaliated against me because I cooperated with the reporter from Boston Magazine, who was writing an article about my wrongful conviction. Prison officials were angry at me and decided they would punish me by removing me from the NEADS Service Dog Program. Over the course of the two years that I had been in the program, I had trained three dogs that were placed with disabled children. Well, after my punitive removal I filed a federal lawsuit against the DOC in U.S. District Court (Peixoto v. Lois Russo, et. al.)

Attorney Sonja Deyoe stepped forward and offered to represent me in the suit, pro bon. The DOC lawyer then filed a motion with the court to have my lawsuit dismissed. He argued that I do not have a Constitutional right to communicate with the media and that DOC officials did not threaten or retaliate against me for doing so and that I did not have a protected right in being in the program to begin with so I had no rights to protect in the suit. Subsequently, the court held a hearing where Sonja aggressively argued against the DOC lawyer on my behalf.

Amazingly, I am happy to announce that Sonja was successful. The court ruled in our favor and denied the DOC’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In the court’s decision the judge agreed with us and stated that a jury could find that “prison officials took adverse action” against me and had “the intent to retaliate,” when they removed me from the NEADS Program. Further, the judge stated that a jury could find that these prison officials acted with “intent” to threaten and intimidate me in order to discourage my communication with the media.

This is wonderful news. Sonja did an amazing job in fighting for me and my civil rights. This is an incredible David v. Goliath win. With Sonja’s help, we were able to stop omnipotent prison officials from abusing their power and from threatening and intimidating those weaker and in their care. We are hopeful that very soon the DOC will be forced to do the right thing and put me back in the NEADS Service Dog Program and to stop any further abuse against me simply for proclaiming my innocence and fighting to be freed from my wrongful imprisonment.

Thank you, Sonja.

March 2016

Hello to everyone,

Well, as I am continuously encouraged by my family to express my thoughts and feelings in this blog, I felt compelled to share what has recently happened and how my days have drastically changed…

Two weeks ago I received some devastating news from the prison’s administration. Apparently, the administration had decided to remove me from the NEADS Service Dog Program.

Imagine my surprise when just the day before I was told by the program’s liaison that the NEADS Trainer had decided that since I was one of the senior handlers and I had done so well with Dancer, she wanted to bring me an 8 week-old puppy to train. I was ecstatic. With Dancer’s recent graduation just a couple of weeks earlier, I was eager to get started training a new puppy right away. Further, getting a new puppy is an honor that is usually only granted to the most dedicated and skilled handlers. The fact that the NEADS Trainer had chosen to give me a new puppy was a great distinction. Imagine my surprise when, alternatively, the very next day the prison’s administration decided to remove me from the program.

A bittersweet moment between Brian and Dancer at graduation. A dog senses when her trainer is hurting. Brian pets Dancer's head to soothe her but who is comforting who? March 1, 2016

A bittersweet moment between Brian and Dancer at graduation. A dog senses when her trainer is hurting. Brian pets Dancer’s head to soothe her but who is comforting who?
March 1, 2016

I was heartbroken. I can’t even put into words how terrible I felt. Everything that gave my life meaning behind these walls was just taken from me. Being in prison for twenty years as an innocent man is difficult enough; removing me from the NEADS Program was like yanking a life preserver from a drowning man.

Needless to say, my days have changed drastically. I was moved from the dog unit to a more restrictive unit. I now seldom, if ever, come into contact with the dogs I’ve grown to love. Now, rather than spending my days training and working with dogs, I spend up to 17 hours a day locked in a two-man cell. I went from helping disabled people, to a mundane and meaningless existence.

The two years I spent in the NEADS Program meant a lot to me. It gave my days purpose while allowing me to give back to my community. I am grateful that I was able to train three service dogs that were placed with disabled children. I know that those dogs changed the lives of those children. I am proud of that. There is a saying in prison: “Nothing that is good lasts.” Knowing that, I cherished every day that I had with the dogs. And I was thankful for the opportunity.

I still have much to be thankful for. And I am. I have an amazing support system. I have many friends and family that love and support me. I have an amazing legal team fighting every day to bring me home. And I have hope for a future outside of prison. It’s a lot. It’s more than most. I will stay strong and I will stay optimistic. I will not let this terrible place change who I am in my heart. But I cannot hide the truth: I am devastated and heartbroken. But, I am strong. I’ll get through this. And I always remember… every day that I survive in this place brings me One Day Closer.

PLEASE NOTE: We, Brian’s family and friends, believe Brian’s sudden removal from the NEADS Program was retaliation by the prison’s administrators and a direct result of Brian cooperating with the reporter from “Boston Magazine.” Prior to Brian’s interview, he was warned not to do the interview. Specifically, during an interrogation about the interview he was told that his position in the NEADS Program could be at risk. Prison administration at MCI-Concord attempted to stop the interview; however, the reporter went over the administrator’s head and had that decision overruled by the Department of Correction’s Central office. Then, just two weeks after the article was released online, the MCI-Concord prison administration arbitrarily and punitively removed Brian from the NEADS Service Dog Program. Prison administrators have refused to provide any explanation to Brian, written or otherwise other than it was an “administrative decision.”

                Brian has met or exceeded all NEADS program expectations. At the prison he has and continues to be disciplinary report free. He has received positive work, housing, and program evaluations. This action was punitive and clearly retaliatory.

                After being removed from the program he was asked by the NEADS liaison to attend the meet and greet/graduation ceremony on March 1st.  It was the first graduation in nearly a year. Although he did not want to attend and be further upset by the situation, Brian attended as the only handler from the program graduating a dog. He did not mention this incident when he spoke at the ceremony. He did not correct Dancer’s new owner who wished him continued success with his next dog. He barely kept himself together but he did it. He carried himself with maturity and spoke with integrity. He represented the NEADS Program responsibly. He did the right thing.

                In our support of Brian, we are contacting Thomas Turco, Undersecretary of Criminal Justice at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security-the agency that oversees the Department of Correction. We are asking him, “If it is the mission of the Department of Correction to protect public safety through providing inmates with programming, why then did the administration at MCI-Concord arbitrarily remove Brian Peixoto from a program where he was training service dogs for disabled people in our communities?”

                Support for Brian’s innocence grows every day and for that we are grateful. Folks have always asked what they can do to help to support Brian. We ask that you contact Undersecretary Turco directly as we are (above.) Massachusetts residents can reach out to local state legislators via email and request that they contact Mr. Turco. Our hope is that an inquiry from the Undersecretary will prompt officials at MCI Concord to reconsider their decision to remove Brian, and also that he will be reinstated and allowed to return to training service dogs.

                While we are always One Day Closer, we are asking that you assist in our efforts to make it so that Brian spends these days doing what he is great at and what he plans to do with his life once free – training service dogs for people with special needs.

                Thank you for your continued support.