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May 16, 2014

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 704-6682


House of Correction Superintendent Yolanda Smith (far right) and Deputy Superintendent Rachelle Steinberg with gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem (center).

Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department recently hosted Gubernatorial Candidate Juliette Kayyem on a tour of the Suffolk County House of Correction.

Led by Superintendent of the House of Correction Yolanda Smith, the tour included an overview of the federal ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) building; Women’s Programming; the Vocational Education program CGI (Common Ground Institute) where inmates are taught employable skills in carpentry, painting, landscaping, print shop, urban farming and more; and the Ricky Dever Medical Unit.

During the tour, Kayyem was impressed by the dedication of the staff and spoke about the importance of having a correctional system that focuses on rehabilitation, as the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department does.

“It was great to be able to see firsthand all of the hard work that our public servants are doing,” said Kayyem. “I want to commend the staff on their great work. They are working tirelessly to serve the Commonwealth, but we need to do more to reform the criminal justice system. The system has to look at rehabilitation, not punishment. We are losing an entire generation of young men and women to the prison system, and it’s time that the Commonwealth made it a priority to allow our young to unleash their potential as productive members of society.”

Following the tour, Sheriff Tompkins talked about the important opportunity presented by Kayyem’s visit as a person who might one day sit in elected office.

“I think having more elected officials involved in what we do here is crucial to our progress in addressing issues of incarceration and recidivism,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “When people seeking a position in public office learn more about the world of corrections, they are better able to address the needs of people leaving incarceration and reentering society. That understanding is key to creating and sustaining a healthy community, and I’m glad [Juliette Kayyem] recognized our facility as a necessary stop in enhancing her understanding of what we do and her obligation to the state and its people, should she be elected to serve.”


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