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May 14, 2012

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 704-6682


Members of the LeadBoston Class of 2012 at the House of Correction.

Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department recently welcomed members of the organization LeadBoston for a tour and presentation at the Suffolk County House of Correction.

LeadBoston is a mid–to–senior level executive leadership program focused on civic engagement and social responsibility. Its mission is to develop executives who are connected across sectors, knowledgeable about diversity, aware of neighborhood realities, and committed to improving racial, gender and social equity. While their individual backgrounds may vary greatly, program participants typically share a number of common traits including: at least fifteen years of professional work experience; a sphere of influence in professional and/or community settings; interest in learning more about the complexities of social justice; willingness to examine their own perspectives and continue to grow as leaders; and a commitment to take increasing action as socially responsible leaders.

As a member of the LeadBoston Class of 2012, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Deputy Superintendent Heather McNeil expressed great appreciation for the program and her pride in having the opportunity to bring the organization into her place of work.

“Being involved with a group of people from all walks of life and different careers has been amazing,” said ADS McNeil. “We all have the same goal, and that is to work on the social justice issues that exist in the City of Boston. The importance of having the group on this tour is to dissolve people’s preconceived notions about what a correctional facility looks like and how it runs. They get to see the educational programs, the medical care inmates and detainees receive, the housing units –and they see the orderly fashion in which they are run and how the officers work one on one with the inmates.”

Beginning the first leg of their tour, the class was led through the House of Correction by two LeadBoston alumnae and Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department employees, Deputy Superintendent Gerry Walsh and Captain David Granese, both of whom provided invaluable information to the group as they visited several vital areas of the facility. Included among the stops made on the tour were Booking, the Medical Unit, Education, Contact Visits, an inmate recreation yard, two female housing units and a classroom for female inmates.

“Sheriff Cabral has done an outstanding job here,” said Deputy Superintendent Walsh, as the tour reached its conclusion. “She knows that ninety–nine percent of all sentenced inmates are going to be released back into our communities and she wants to make sure that they are as best prepared as possible to turn their lives around. It’s up to them to do it once they’re released, but the Sheriff wants to give them the best possible chance at doing it.”

Addressing the class during the presentation portion of their visit, Sheriff Cabral spoke about her efforts to provide such opportunities.

“When is the last time you heard someone talk about poverty?”, Sheriff Cabral asked the assembly. “Wealth is so sought after in this country and if you’re poor, people think that it must be your fault. And, why is it that the answer to helping people out of poverty is to cut the services that you provide for them? The link between poverty and crime is undeniable.”

“At the end of the day, people are responsible for their actions,” Sheriff Cabral continued. “But there are differences between opportunity and access to opportunity. Opportunity is not entirely up to the individual and we know that not everyone has the same opportunity in our society. We are trying to have those in our custody begin to take responsibility for their actions – be accountable – and also inspire in them the hope that they can positively change their lives.”

Cheryl Harris, drawing upon a multi–layered perspective derived from her experience as Moderator for LeadBoston, President of Cheryl Harris & Associates, Inc. and as an ordained minister, applauded Sheriff Cabral for her vision.

“Sheriff Cabral used the words ‘hope’ and ‘accountability,’” said Ms. Harris. “These are not words that you commonly hear used in correctional facilities. She really is invested in the work of rehabilitation and doesn’t subscribe to the narrow view of what ‘corrections’ is. You can see it in the programming that she has for inmates and the people that she has implementing it.”

For more information about LeadBoston, visit:

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