FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Steve Tompkins
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT GRADUATES FIRST LATINO RECOVERY GROUP
The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) recently celebrated the success of a new, first–of–its–kind program at the House of Correction’s 3–3 Recovery Unit.
Started this past October, the Latino Recovery program runs the span of six weeks and focuses on inmates dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. And, while the program follows the traditional principals of recovery used in the Department’s other programs, it also features a special component tailored specifically for the Spanish–speaking inmate population. Much of the instruction and counseling sessions are administered in Spanish in an effort to better reach those inmates with limited English proficiency.
“This is a long overlooked population that is now getting the services they’ve needed,” said John Dolan, SCSD Supervisor of Men’s Treatment Programs. “We still emphasize principals of recovery, but now, we can better serve them by communicating more effectively. It’s important that they’re getting these services from a person who speaks Spanish.”
According to Dolan, that person, SCSD Clinical Caseworker Fernando Bossa, has been instrumental in the creation and implementation of the new program.
“Predominantly, many of the facilitators who worked in recovery unit were Irish white guys like me,” Dolan said. “Language was always a problem because some of the men in the unit only spoke Spanish or very little English. Fernando has done a great job with this. He was tenacious about getting this program off the ground. He’s been outstanding in my book and he’s a big addition to what we’re doing here.”
Consistent and effective communication, agreed Bossa, is the crucial element in any successful recovery program.
“It’s best for the client to understand everything in their first language,” said Bossa. “Speaking in their predominant language allows them to express their feelings and communicate in a way that they couldn’t in English. And, the communication helps them to identify their behaviors and addictions and some of the ways that they can begin to make changes in their lives.”
During the program’s first graduation ceremony – which featured poetry, art, singing, and the presentation of certificates of completion – members of the program spoke about some of those changes.
“I want to thank you for having this class, it has helped me tremendously,” said one graduate. “It has made it easier for me to open up. I know that when I get out of here, I’ll be ready…”
“This is my first time speaking sober in front of a crowd,” stated another. “I thank Mr. Dolan and his staff. I am grateful to be here today. I’ve struggled in life and have seen a lot of things. Today I’m moving forward. I’m happy and focused to go that extra mile and more.”
As the Department continues preparation for the start of the program’s next class, scheduled for mid–December, Bossa is emphatic in his belief that it can be a difference-maker in the lives of countless inmates.
“Our class is set to start on December 14th and we have a roster of twenty guys who can’t wait to start,” said Bossa. “Word has spread about the things that we’re doing here. People who were shy or reluctant to get involved now feel more secure and good about themselves since joining the group. Many of them have become inspired and truly believe that they have begun to take the first steps in what will be the beginning of a new start in their lives.”