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November 26, 2010

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 704-6682


Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Director of Vocational Education John D’Amore addresses the graduates of the 41st cycle of the Common Ground Institute as Kelly MacDonald, Vocational Programs Coordinator, looks on.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department recently presided over the graduation of the 41st class of the Common Ground Institute.

Created in 2005 by Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral, the Common Ground Institute (CGI) is a program tasked with the purpose of making the prison population of Suffolk County more attractive to employers and increasing employment opportunities for individuals transitioning back into society. Through this program, the Department addresses recidivism, teaches life and employment skills and helps to make Suffolk County a safer place to live.

CGI is a 10–week instructional program that is divided into two 5–week modules with each section designed to enhance and fortify employment skills that will aid the prison population of Suffolk County in making a successful transition back into society post–incarceration. With the CGI program, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department takes a proactive approach to reducing recidivism, in part, by placing an emphasis on vocational education.

During the first cycle of the program, CGI students spend their afternoons in a classroom situation where they are taught carpentry, custodial maintenance, painting and landscaping. Additionally, class participants gain certification by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during the academic module by completing a 10–hour course for general industrial safety & health standards. OSHA is the Federal agency in the Department of Labor that publishes and enforces safety and health regulations for most businesses and industries in the United States.

At the completion of the first five weeks of classes, participants then utilize their classroom instruction in a very practical way. Working through the Department’s Community Works Program (CWP) for the final five weeks of the cycle, CGI students apply their knowledge in carpentry, custodial maintenance, painting and landscaping as a means of community restitution. The Sheriff’s Department has partnered with the Cities of Boston and Revere and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in order to complete the final phase of CGI programming throughout which CWP crews work in conjunction with the Inspectional Services Department, the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Economic Development Industrial Corporation, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Massachusetts Highway Authority.

Thus far, a total of 483 inmates have been enrolled in the CGI program with 373 receiving their OSHA certification. Two hundred and sixty five graduates have been placed into emloyment following their release from the House of Correction.

Addressing the graduates of the 41st CGI class, Director of Vocational Education John D’Amore spoke about the effort required to achieve success and positive change.

“You’ve all started down a path wanting to make a change in your lives,” said D’Amore. “Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, I want you to keep it going. Remember, one small effort by itself will not have much of an impact, yet when that same effort is repeated again and again, the results can be magnificent. With persistence, what seems to be impossible can, in fact, be achieved.”

To learn more about the Common Ground Institute, Community Works Program and other programs of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, visit:

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