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March 7, 2008

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 961-6682


The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department recently hosted a tour at the House of Correction (HOC) for members of the social justice organization LeadBoston.

Part of the Boston Center for Community Justice, LeadBoston is an organization that brings together mid– and senior–level professionals from a multitude of businesses and diverse origins to develop actions through which members can work to “make Greater Boston a more socially just community.”

Led by Deputy Superintendent Gerry Walsh and accompanied by Superintendent of the HOC Gerard Horgan and Captain Jack Sullivan, the group toured the facility stopping in at several key areas including Booking, the Dever Medical Unit, the Education Department, Chapel, and an inmate housing unit.

As the group traveled through the HOC, Deputy Supt. Walsh, Supt. Horgan and Capt. Sullivan provided members with comprehensive information about some of the programming, facts and functions of the Department.

Members of LeadBoston finished the tour in the male and female Contact Visits units where they sat for presentations made by representatives of the Sheriff’s Department, along with a female and male inmate.

Sheriff’s Department External Affairs Chief and former LeadBoston member Steve Tompkins later presented to the group and offered praise to the organization for its commitment to social justice while expressing the Department’s own dedication to the community at large.

“The Sheriff’s mandate is that we take these people who have come to us through whatever circumstance and release them back into the community in a better position than they came in,” said Tompkins. Tompkins went on to list the wide array of services designed to achieve this goal including educational and vocational programming, medical and counseling services, parenting classes, substance abuse counseling and a host of others.

At the conclusion of the HOC tour, members of LeadBoston talked about the impact of their experience.

“I was struck by the amazing amount of services that are available here for inmates looking to make changes in their lives,” said LeadBoston member Anna Adler. “It’s really ironic that some of the services that might have helped them to avoid coming to jail, they have to come to jail to get.”

Upon learning that many of these programs and services are wholly dependent upon the vision and leadership of each sitting sheriff, LeadBoston member Lori Dougherty expressed support for both Sheriff Cabral and her Department’s programming.

“This was an amazing experience,” Dougherty said. “There are some very important programs here, but the troubling thing is that their existence is so tenuous. It rests on Sheriff Cabral, because she’s implementing these great services, but there is no guarantee that they would continue under another sheriff if she ever left. It’s important that they be maintained permanently.”

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