FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT WELCOMES BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, TEENS TO PARTICIPATE IN JAIL BRAKE PROGRAM
The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department recently welcomed two members of the Boston Police Department to the Suffolk County House of Correction to take part in the Jail Brake program.
The Boston Police Department’s Sergeant Detective Kelly Nee, Commander of the Boston Area School Police Unit, and Lieutenant and school police member Kate Flaherty chaperoned the five young women they brought in to take part in the Jail Brake program.
The Jail Brake program – created in 1987 for males, and expanded by Sheriff Andrea Cabral in 2007 to include females – is designed to help reduce the rise in violent acts committed by adolescents in Suffolk County and to curtail the increase in the number of young people being incarcerated. The program emphasizes the realities of imprisonment including: lack of control, lack of privacy, and responsibility for one’s own actions. By giving adolescents a few hours of life within the confines of the South Bay House of Correction, they receive a firsthand look at the consequences of their actions.
Targeted for the program by Sgt. Det. Nee and Lt. Flaherty for committing past in-school infractions – including carrying concealed weapons and assault and battery – the girls were outfitted with Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department-issue inmate uniforms, handcuffed together, and led through the booking area by Officer Shawnette Fitzpatrick and Coordinator of Community Outreach and Youth Programs Sandy Zamor-Calixte, before visiting two female housing units.
“You’re here because someone cared enough to be worried about where you were headed,” Officer Fitzpatrick told the girls. “You’re here because you have potential and you have the opportunity to not waste it.”
Zamor-Calixte seized on the theme, stressing to the young Jail Brake participants the dire need for maturity and sound decision-making.
“You are in control of your choices right now,” said Zamor-Calixte. “You need to think about what you’re doing and where your choices are going to lead you. If you don’t, you’ll be right back here with our officers making the choices for you. We all know adversity,” continued Zamor-Calixte. “We all know obstacles…we all have peer pressure. But, you’re now at the point where you have to be the bigger person and take responsibility for your actions before it’s too late.”
Completing a key feature of the program, the girls were engaged by a team of specially selected female inmates who spoke about the severe conditions of prison life and the circumstances that have ultimately led them to it.
“You don’t want to be in here, believe me,” said one inmate. “In here, you’re nobody. Nobody cares about you. Nobody cares about how you feel in here…what you think in here. You just get up when they tell you to get up, go to sleep when they tell you to, eat when they tell you to – you have no freedom like you all have right now. This is nowhere to be.”
Another inmate warned the girls, “Listening and learning are the most important things you can do. That’s the whole point of you being here right now in this program. But, I guarantee, you don’t start listening now…you just keep doing what you’ve been doing…you’ll be right in here with me.”
Following the Jail Brake, Sgt. Det. Nee and Lt. Flaherty offered a positive review of the program.
“We refer a lot of kids to this program and I wanted to see what it was like,” said Sgt. Det. Nee. “Now I understand why so many people are trying to get children into this program – it’s a real eye-opening experience. The inmates in the program seem really genuine and committed to keeping people out of here and working for prevention.”
Giving her view about the program, Lt. Flaherty summed up her experience in a single word: “Powerful.”
Before letting her young visitors exit the locked facility and return to life in their respective neighborhoods, Sheriff’s Department Officer Fitzpatrick gave the girls one final piece of food for thought, imparted to provide the kind of mental nourishment that will last a lifetime.
“We want to help you, ladies. We truly do,” Officer Fitzpatrick said. “It’s all up to you, though. You can decide that you’re going to turn yourselves around…that you’re going to try and be a better person out there and lead a different life, starting today. Or…you can keep behaving like you are, and we’ll get a cell ready for you, because you’ll most definitely be coming back here.”
To learn more about how you can arrange for a Jail Brake, call Sandy Zamor-Calixte (females) at (617) 961-6654 or Deputy Justin Plaza (males) at (617) 635-1100, ext. 3156.