FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 2, 2014
CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department recently welcomed gubernatorial candidate Donald Berwick for a tour of the Suffolk County House of Correction.
The tour, which was led by House of Correction Superintendent Yolanda Smith, included an overview of the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Building, the Educational Division, the Ricky Dever Medical Unit, Women’s Programming, and Vocational Education’s CGI (the Common Ground Institute) Program, where inmates learn employable skills such as carpentry, print shop, food sanitation, painting and more.
Also present on the tour were Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department employees Assistant Deputy Superintendent Rachelle Steinberg, Valerie Barsom, and Dennis Guilfoyle, in addition to David Marsh of Donald Berwick’s staff.
Sitting with Mr. Berwick during the post–tour briefing, Sheriff Tompkins exchanged information and ideas with his guest and other participants.
“We have upwards of 740,000 citizens in Suffolk County and our mandate is to protect those folks and their property, so we need legislators and others to understand very intimately what we do,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “I think once you get the offenders off the street, we play the biggest role in how that person is going to comport themselves once they leave our jurisdiction. The way inmates are treated here has a great effect on how they treat others when they get out, particularly their kids. So, there’s a misunderstanding that we just throw people away and what will be, will be. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We can’t afford to engage in that line of thinking any longer.”
Following his tour, Mr. Berwick expressed his impressions about the Department and the vast amount of programming that it offers to inmates and detainees.
“I don’t think people realize all that you do,” said Berwick. “All I can say is ‘bravo.’ Watching what you do and the sophistication in your approach is extremely incredible. I did not know a lot of this [information] and I’m sure there’s a lot more to know, but this is an incredible gift and I really appreciate it.”
Returning the sentiment to his visitor, Sheriff Tompkins talked about the significance of Berwick’s presence as one seeking a leadership position in the State of Massachusetts.
“I’m glad that Mr. Berwick could join us,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “Anyone who seeks to be a leader of the community should know about the incarcerated population. This population informs us about the areas in which our society needs to grow and I think he did a good thing by coming here to learn about how that population is being treated while incarcerated. What happens in jail greatly affects what happens when these folks return home, and that’s why the work we do here is so important.”