As I make my way around the neighborhoods and communities of Suffolk County and beyond, I speak frequently and fervently about some of our most unsung and unheralded members of the law enforcement continuum the women and men who serve in corrections.
The Massachusetts Legislature will soon vote on Governor Patricks crime bill, which contains provisions for much needed reform of the laws and procedures that govern criminal offender record information (CORI.)
The Boston Foundation and Crime & Justice Institute Report on costs of Corrections in Massachusetts cited in the December 3rd Boston Globe is properly focused on reducing costs and recidivism while maintaining public safety. However, the Report, which relies on Massachusetts Department of Correction data, does not accurately describe Sheriffs actual workload, budget history or custody population.
In a fearweary nation where we daily face one dire prediction after another, I am loathe to use extremes to describe any problem. Unfortunately, truancy and dropout rates in Boston merit use of the dreaded descriptor: crisis.
As Sheriff of Suffolk County, I am responsible for staffing the largest Sheriffs Department in the Commonwealth. With an average attrition rate of 15 employees per month and consecutive decreases in fiscal appropriations for the last three years, we are consistently challenged to maintain adequate staffing levels.
Last year, more than 4,300 offenders completed their sentences at the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay and were released back into the communities. Statewide, more than 20,000 adults were released from state and county prisons.
Thousands of men and women are committed to the Suffolk County Jail each year, and each receives the best possible medical care available. The Jail, located at 200 Nashua St. in Boston, processed more than 13,000 pretrial detaineesmen and women arrestedin 2003.