FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 28, 2014
CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department recently invited Mayor Walsh on a tour of the Suffolk County House of Correction.
The tour, led by Superintendent of the House of Correction Yolanda Smith, began with the Sheriff’s Department’s BRI (Boston Re–entry Initiative) program, and included stops in the Common Ground Institute (CGI) – the Department’s vocational education program where inmates learn employable skills they can utilize upon release – and the Early Recovery Group, where Department staff assists inmates in beginning to make an active effort to address their issues of addiction.
Created in 2000, The Boston Reentry Initiative (BRI) is a partnership between the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, the Boston Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office. BRI creates a formal inter–agency support system for inmates before their release from the House of Correction. Targeting inmates between the ages of 17–30, BRI focuses on offenders that are considered high–risk for continuing their involvement in crime.
During the panel presentation of the BRI, which included a combination of community partners from the health, employment and law enforcement continuum, Mayor Martin Walsh addressed the inmates assembled to take part in the panel.
“By doing the things that you’re doing here and listening to the people that are sitting behind me, you can help yourselves to get out of where you are now and stay out,” said Mayor Walsh. “We’re all doing this so that you don’t have to come back here. And, as the Mayor of Boston, I am going to be working with [Sheriff Tompkins] on more re–entry programs, because it’s the right thing to do for you and for the neighborhoods. There are some great people in this room trying to help you. Take the tools that are here for you in this program and try and turn your life around. If not, you’ll end up back here or some other prison, maybe even upstate.”
Upon the tour’s stop into a session of the Early Recovery Group, both Sheriff Tompkins and Mayor Walsh offered their words of encouragement to participants of the program.
“I don’t know how well you know him, but Sheriff Tompkins cares about you,” Mayor Walsh told members of the recovery class. “He isn’t about keeping people in prison. All he talks about out in the street is about how he can help to turn people’s lives around so that they’re in a better place than when they came in.”
Speaking about Mayor Walsh and his commitment to the recovery community, Sheriff Tompkins reiterated the sentiment that both the Mayor’s Office and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department would, indeed, be collaborating more frequently with respect to reducing recidivism and providing more resources for addiction recovery services.
“[Mayor Walsh] has been in the recovery community,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “He’s walked in the same shoes that you’re in. I invited him here today to see what we can do together to help you and others to have a fighting chance when you get out. I’ve known [Mayor Walsh] for 12 years. If he can help, he will. We couldn’t ask for more in a public servant and in our Mayor, we have someone who really gets it. More importantly, he can bring resources here that can help this Department to help you gentlemen to improve your station in life.”