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June 17, 2013

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 704-6682


Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins hosted United States Representative Ed Markey and two MA Sheriffs for a tour of the Suffolk County House of Correction (HOC). Standing with Sheriff Tompkins (far right) are (from left to right) Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, former Boston Reentry Initiative participant Greg Walton, U.S. Rep. Markey, and Norfolk Sheriff Michael Bellotti.

Recently, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins hosted U.S. Representative Ed Markey on a tour of the Suffolk County House of Correction (HOC).

The tour, which was led by Superintendent Yolanda Smith, included an overview of the facility’s reentry programing, including the Common Ground Institute (CGI), and the Women’s Unit.

Joining Sheriff Tompkins and Congressman Markey on the tour was Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and Norfolk Sheriff Michael Bellotti.

The tour made stops at the CGI, the Department’s vocational education program to observe inmates as they worked on a current construction project. John D’Amore, the Director of CGI, explained that his program grants inmates the tools that enables them to find sustainable employment upon release.

“With this program, we’re giving them the skills that they need to earn a decent living,” said D’Amore.

After CGI, the group visited the Women’s unit, which includes GED classes and the C.R.E.W. (Community Reentry for Women) program. The Director of Women’s Programming, Christina Ruccio, presented a long list of achievements of the program, including a recent $1.5 million grant from the Department of Labor for the C.R.E.W. program, and recent recognition from Harvard University as a “Bright Idea.”

“Our staff works very hard to deliver on our directive to return the people in our custody to their communities in better standing than they were when they left it,” stated Sheriff Tompkins.

One example of the great promise offered by the Department’s programming was embodied by Gregory Walton, a former Boston Reentry Initiative participant who also took part in the tour. Walton obtained skills in Information Technology prior to his release from the House of Correction in 2005, and in eight years managed to turn his life completely around becoming a home owner, a husband, a father, and a full–time MIT employee working in the IT field.

“I just needed some support,” Gregory said.

After the tour, Sheriff Tompkins expressed his gratitude for Congressman Markey’s attendance.

“I’m very happy to have Congressman Markey join us on this tour,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “It’s very important to have legislators who understand the needs of our inmates and how these programs can meet those needs. We hope to have a future partner in Congressman Markey so that we can push these programs even further.”


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