Massachusetts prisons should ban exercise equipment, says former corrections officer disabled after attack

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Corrections officer disabled after prison attack pushes for ban on exercise equipment

Corrections officer disabled after prison attack pushes for ban on exercise equipment


BOSTON – For the first time a former Massachusetts corrections officer is speaking publicly about a brutal beating at the hands of an inmate that has left him permanently disabled.

Matt Tidman was before a legislative committee considering a bill that would ban exercise equipment and free weights from the state’s medium and maximum security prisons. “I hope it doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Tidman told the legislators. “Nobody deserves this, my family doesn’t deserve this.”

He’s trying to rebuild his life after the attack August 31, 2022, at MCI Shirley having to learn to walk and talk again after he was knocked unconscious, on life support and in a coma for several weeks. He’s missing part of his skull and is deaf in right ear, blind in his right eye.

Matthew Tidman
Former Massachusetts corrections officer Matt Tidman

CBS Boston

Kelly McKenna, the director of nursing at the prison at the time, brought home the trauma of the attack with a metal bar from the equipment. “His face was five times the size it was, he was having seizures. I had to hold him on his side so he wouldn’t choke. It was just horrible,” said McKenna.

“It’s very real but not very publicized,” Tidman said after the hearing. “We need to shed more light on it.”

After the attack the Department of Corrections temporarily banned exercise equipment in the state’s prisons, but it will take a state law to make it permanent. Supporters of the bill say free weights are like free weapons. “We are not here to take away inmates’ rights to exercise. We are here to make sure the officers who take care of the inmates are also safe,” said Kevin Flanagan with the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union.

Matt Tidman remembers nothing of that day but remembers finally waking up to his family and a celebratory procession to bring him home from rehab which his doctors say was nothing short of a miracle. “They have no idea how I’m standing here let alone still breathing,” Tidman said.

And with every breath Matt Tidman says he wants to protect other officers. 

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