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February 9, 2007

CONTACT: Steve Tompkins
(617) 961-6650


Recently a female crew from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Community Works Program (CWP) provided support to the Freedom House located in Dorchester. The group of women began a project on the second floor of the community center to create several new classrooms. They also removed decades–old carpeting and restored the underlying hardwood floors.

CWP trains inmates in a number of vocations, then sends crews to sites throughout the community to gain work experience while improving the neighborhoods of Suffolk County. Under the supervision of Deputy Sheriffs, CWP crews get a valuable and practical education that can be used to find employment post release, while also contributing to a measure of public restitution. The Sheriff’s Department has under its purview four male crews and one female crew.

Work done by the CWP crew is part of a larger effort to refurbish the Freedom House, which is more than 60 years old, according to Executive Director Ricardo Neal. The Freedom House provides social services, such as job training and computer literacy, to the communities of Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain, and does not have adequate funding to complete all the much–needed repairs. The Sheriff’s Department’s support has saved the organization thousands of dollars and plans are underway to send additional CWP crews to the site in the coming months to continue with the refurbishing.

Both the inmates on the crew and their supervising officers, Deputy Robin Garside and Deputy Mike White, impressed staff at the Freedom House.

“Deputies Garside and White had a wonderful rapport with the crew,” said Neal. “They seemed genuinely interested in helping the women learn and acquire new skills,” he added.

Already, with only a portion of the project completed, the improvements have made a dramatic difference at the Freedom House. Several former students have said they wish they were still in programs so they could use the new classrooms, which staff members now refer to as “the executive suites.”

“The work looks beautiful,” said Neal. “The Sheriff’s Department has helped to create a place of learning and the investment has meant a great deal to us.”

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