BILLERICA – Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian welcomed four newly elected members of the county’s legislative delegation to the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction for an official visit on Tuesday, December 18.
The visit by Senator-elect Edward Kennedy (D – First Middlesex) and Representatives-elect Richard Haggerty (D – 30th Middlesex), David Robertson (D – 19th Middlesex) and Maria Robinson (6th Middlesex) was the first in a series being planned by Sheriff Koutoujian and other sheriffs across the Commonwealth.
Robinson represents Framingham.
“We are not a fortress on a hill. The work we do has an impact not only on those placed in our custody by the courts, but their families and the community at large,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “These visits are critical opportunities for legislators to see first-hand the incredible work our officers, medical staff, educators, and counselors do on a daily basis to keep our communities safe and ready those in our custody to return to the community better prepared to be productive taxpayers and citizens.”
During the visit, the incoming legislators met with inmates and staff in the Housing Unit for Military Veterans (HUMV), as well as the People Achieving Change Together (P.A.C.T.) program for young adult offenders ages 18-24. They also learned about the new educational tablet program now underway and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and the nationally recognized Medication Assisted Treatment And Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) program.
“It was incredible to see how the Sheriff has incorporated therapeutic methods with traditional corrections work to help some of our most vulnerable populations re-enter society and start anew,” said Rep.-elect Robinson.
“Sheriff Koutoujian and his professional staff provided an important and up close look at the serious work being done at the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction,” said Rep.-elect Haggerty. “I look forward to partnering with the Sheriff’s Department on a range of issues to enhance public safety, lower recidivism and better prepare those in custody for reentry into society.”
“The tour with Sheriff Koutoujian was excellent; the Sheriff showcased not only how well his operations are conducted on a day-to-day basis, but I especially enjoyed his intelligent approach to incarceration,” said Rep.-elect Robertson. “The Sheriff understood the need for justice, but is also focusing on working hard to ensure that prisoners, be it short or long term, do not wind back up in prison. Not only is this better for the prisoner, but is better for society as a whole as the Middlesex County Sheriff’s office reforms individuals as productive members of society and saves the taxpayers money in the long-term.”
Sheriff Koutoujian also briefed the incoming legislators on two major initiatives now underway that will enhance opportunities for diversion for those with behavioral health issues.
The first was the creation of the Middlesex County Restoration Commission. The 11-member commission was created by the Legislature and is co-chaired by Sheriff Koutoujian and Dr. Danna Mauch, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health. It is tasked with exploring the potential of creating greater opportunity for law enforcement and the courts to divert those with mental illness and/or substance use disorders away from the criminal justice system and towards appropriate treatment.
The second was Middlesex County’s designation by the Laura and John Arnold (LJAF) as one of three national pilot sites for the Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative. The effort is focused on linking local police, jail, hospital and service provider data to identify individuals who overlap within these multiple systems – known as frequent or super utilizers – with a goal of proactively linking them with services. Currently, more than two-dozen Middlesex County police departments have joined the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office in the pilot announced this past May.
A second visit for newly elected members of the Middlesex delegation unable to attend Tuesday is being planned for early 2019.
PHOTO and release submitted to SOURCE
Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian (center) recently welcomed (from left) State Representative-elect Richard Haggerty, State Representative-elect Maria Robinson, State Senator-elect Edward Kennedy and State Representative-elect David Robertson to the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction for a meeting and overview of initiatives currently underway at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.