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January 31, 2011

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 704-6682


Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Deputy Superintendent Rachelle Steinberg presents at the Massachusetts State House Library for the Friends of the State Library Brown Bag lunch series.

Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Deputy Superintendent Rachelle Steinberg recently visited the Massachusetts State House as a speaker for the Friends of the State Library of Massachusetts Brown Bag lunch series.

Established in 1826 with a collection of maps, statute books and government documents, the genesis of the State Library of Massachusetts began unofficially back in 1811 when a document exchange program with other states was begun, initiating a flow of documents that would form the basis of the new library. Many years later, in 1984, the Legislature made the Library the official depository of all documents published by state agencies. With this legislation, citizen access to these documents is ensured.

Beginning her presentation with a sweeping overview of the Department and its functions, ADS Steinberg provided detailed descriptions of some of the many services and programs that have been made available to inmates and detainees at the South Bay House of Correction and the Nashua Street Jail.

Among the subjects covered during the address were the Department’s population size (normally between 1,700 and 1,800), the average length of sentence for inmates at the House of Correction (two–and–a–half years per charge), amount of programming that the Department makes available to inmates and detainees (approximately 80 programs, between the men and woman housed at the HOC and Nashua Street Jail), and comprehensive physical and mental health care, among many other topics.

“We have a lot of programs that happen in a relatively small space,” said ADS Steinberg. “Sheriff Cabral has been committed to providing programs and support services for inmates and detainees because she wants them to have the best possible chance at leaving incarceration better off than they were when they came in.”

According to Steinberg, the strong emphasis placed on rehabilitation and providing learning opportunities for inmates and detainees creates a dual impact: not only is the ex–offender given new tools to help them toward becoming successful following release, but their success benefits the community as a result.

“It’s about public safety first and foremost,” said Steinberg. “Sheriff Cabral knows that these people are going to be coming back into the neighborhoods that they left and if they aren’t coming home better equipped to be successful, it’s going to negatively impact not just their families and friends, but their communities as well. The programs and services that are offered through the Department are designed to help ease ex–offenders’ transition back into society while providing a stronger foundation to succeed.”

During the question and answer session that followed the presentation, one attendee stated, “I am glad that I came because I was able to learn about the great programs that you have for inmates. I had no idea that the Sheriff’s Department had so much going on. It’s great for you and the Sheriff to be able to do that.”

Reference Librarian at the MA State Library Tina Vegelante agreed, and noted that the presentation by ADS Steinberg was among the best that the Brown Bag lunch series has held thus far.

“The thing that I was most impressed by,” said Vegelante, “was the amount of programming that the Sheriff’s Department makes available to inmates and detainees. And, I have never seen such an interactive audience for this series. There were a lot of good questions being asked and there was a lot of really good information being shared.”

The Friends of the State Library of Massachusetts organization was created with the goal of providing collections, resources, and services to meet the research and information needs of citizens and the legislature; and serving as a gateway to knowledge. To learn more about the State Library of Massachusetts of the Friends of the State Library of Massachusetts, visit:

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