Jail Detainee Programs
Rehabilitation is an essential component to the mission at the Suffolk
County Jail on Nashua Street. While awaiting trial, detainees receive comprehensive
education and social service programs according to classification requirements.
Services are provided through the Social Service Division, which maintains close
contact with detainees to assess the needs of individuals and provides appropriate
services to meet immediate and long-term needs. By providing timely and professional
evaluations and referrals to programs, the division is a major resource in providing
the efficient overall operation of the Jail. Responsibilities for the division include
classification, religious services, substance abuse programs, referrals and disciplinary
Social Service Staff at the Jail offer several programs to offenders in Sheriff’s
- Lifeline is a suicide prevention program facilitated by a caseworker and a representative
of Samaritans. The purpose is to help detainees who are feeling depressed or suicidal. It
is designed to have detainees to talk to each other rather than staff. The concept of the program
is based upon befriending-listening and being present for peer support. Lifeliners are male and
female detainees that display caring and empathetic actions towards others. Detainees are referred
to the program by caseworkers, nurses, officers, and/or teachers. Lifeliners are on call 24 hours
a day, seven days a week. The medical staff calls upon them to speak with other detainees who
express or show feelings of suicide, despair, and/or depression. Lifeliners serve an essential
role within the facility and deescalate many situations.
- The Recovery Unit helps chemically dependent detainees change their behaviors, beliefs
and attitudes in order to successfully integrate back into society. The unit holds up to 66
detainees who have voluntarily signed up for the 90-day program. The issues dealt with are
low self-esteem, poverty, education, housing as well as mental illness. Caseworkers facilitate
all the relapse prevention and continuing care groups while volunteers, community agencies and
Boston College School of Social Work Graduate Students provide the necessary assistance for
these programs. Often times this is a detainee’s first exposure to treatment. Many
detainees have achieved few accomplishments in their life due to addictive attitudes and
Behaviors. The recovery unit is an opportunity to succeed and graduate from a treatment program.
- Religious services and spiritual care provide a foundation upon which rehabilitation begins.
The chaplains who make up various denominations provide regularly scheduled religious services
to the detainees. The number of detainees attending services regularly speaks directly to the
need for such programs. The Chaplaincy includes Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness
and various Protestant faiths. Detainees are informed of the availability and schedule of religious
services including religious holiday observances such as Ramadan and a Jewish Seder. Individual
pastoral counseling is also available on a regular and consistent basis to the detainees.
- The HIV/AIDS program educates all detainees regarding a public health epidemic that affects
everyone in the community. The support groups and individual counseling sessions help positive
detainees with issues surrounding health care, disclosure, homelessness, addiction, dual diagnosis
and discharge planning. The program consists of education/prevention, peer education, sexual
transmitted disease education, voluntary antibody testing, discharge planning for HIV/AIDS individuals
and HIV/AIDS support groups. Education/prevention and voluntary testing are administered in English
and Spanish. All detainees are required to attend an HIV peer education/orientation class as part of
the classification process. An estimated 6000 detainees have been present for a half-hour class in
lecture/film format followed by a question and answer period. Caseworkers and other support staff
are also trained in HIV/AIDS education. All support staff are encouraged to attend three updates
regarding HIV/AIDS throughout the year.