Sep 26, 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
By Gary V. Murray
WORCESTER — Federal, state and local law enforcement officials will join forces with social service agencies and others in an effort to keep high-risk offenders from returning to jail once they are released.
U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz came to Worcester Tuesday to announce her office’s partnership with the Worcester Re-entry Initiative Program, which is designed to identify high-risk jail inmates and offer them the tools they will need to stay on the straight and narrow upon their return to the community.
“We must never stop being tough on crime. But we must also be smart and efficient when battling crime and understanding the conditions and individual choices which cause it,” the U.S. attorney said during a press conference at the Worcester Trial Court.
“We look forward to the interagency and community partnerships that will measurably contribute to a decrease in crime and improvement in the quality of life for Massachusetts residents,” Ms. Ortiz said of the fledgling program.
A collaborative effort, the Worcester Re-entry Initiative Program will combine the resources of the Worcester Police Department gang unit, the offices of the U.S. attorney, Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis and District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., probation and parole officials, social services agencies, educators, mental health professionals, substance abuse treatment providers and faith-based organizations to try to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety.
The list of participants includes the sheriff’s After Incarceration Support Services, the state Department of Revenue, Spectrum Health Systems, Valley Psychiatric Services and the Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, Worcester Community Action Council, Workforce Central, the WISR Program and Straight Ahead Ministries.
“As sheriff, you learn one thing: and that is that so many people come back to prison when they get out. We’ve got to try to stop that type of circle of recidivism,” Sheriff Evangelidis said.
An important component of the program, which is modeled after the award-winning Boston Re-entry Initiative, is to identify jail inmates who are at the greatest risk of re-offending when they get out and to offer them an opportunity to begin turning their lives around even before they are set free, according to the sheriff.
The pre-release assistance might come in the form of enabling an inmate to obtain his GED, offering advice on finding employment or providing needed drug or psychiatric counseling, he said.
“If he’s in a jail cell one day and on Main Street the next day, it’s a recipe for disaster,” Mr. Early said. “You’ve got to get to them before they get out the door. Are we going to be successful on every single one? Absolutely not. But we know we’re going to do better.”
Pre-release participants will be encouraged to forge relationships with individuals representing resources that will be necessary for success on the outside, including parole and probation officers, and will undergo “intense” supervision upon release from custody to ensure greater accountability, according to Ms. Ortiz.
“This innovative program’s effectiveness is built around providing high-risk offenders with a choice of not the usual carrot-and-stick approach, but that of a carrot and hammer, be productive or pay the consequences,” Sheriff Evangelidis said.
Those who are willing to accept the help being offered and continue to strive to become productive citizens will benefit, while those who return to lives of crime may find themselves serving lengthy state or federal prison sentences, he said.
The program got underway in July with eight Worcester County Jail and House of Correction inmates and it is expected to work with an average of 90 to 100 high-risk inmates a year.
The goal of the program is to help ex-offenders transform themselves into productive citizens and, at the same time, to enhance public safety by reducing crime, officials said.
“It really isn’t just for the inmates, it’s for their families, it’s for the entire community,” the sheriff said.
Sep 13, 2013
New England Revolution star forward and Leominster native Diego Fagundez (left) holds a jacket with Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis (middle) and Revs Mascot Slyde (right) following practice at Gillette Stadium.
Milford Patch – September 13, 2013
Fall is a beautiful time in New England, but it’s also a reminder that cold weather is on the way. To help those less fortunate prepare for the winter months, the New England Revolution are teaming up to host the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office annual winter coat drive before the teams match against D.C. United on Sept. 21 at Gillette Stadium.
New or gently used coats can be turned in between 6:15 and 7:30 p.m. at the Bank of America Gate (northwest corner) or NRG Plaza (north end) at the Stadium on the 21st, and all fans making donations will receive an autographed Revolution player card.
“New England winters feel colder every year, so we’re happy to do what we can to help make sure kids and adults here get the coats they need,” said Revolution forward and Leominster native Diego Fagundez. “We hope our fans join in and donate winter coats at our game on Sept. 21, so families stay warmer this winter.”
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis visited with Fagundez at a recent Revolution practice to discuss the importance of helping low-income families keep kids warm during the winter months.
“I am so excited to partner with the New England Revolution for our Annual Winter Coat Drive,” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis. “As the cold weather months approach, and especially during these difficult economic times, there is an incredible need for suitable winter coats. Teaming up with the New England Revolution on September 21st for the game day coat drive will help so many in our area who may be less fortunate.”
The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office distributes thousands of coats to local community centers every year, and the drive on the 21st will wrap the Revolution’s 2013 series of charity donation drives – which began in July with a soccer equipment collection for Rhode Island-based project GOAL and continued in August with a school supplies drive for Cradles to Crayons.
Sep 12, 2013
NECN: Mike Cronin
Coming face to face with addiction, a new program aims to educate young people about substance abuse and its consequences.
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis tells students at Sullivan Middle School in Worcester to stay away from drugs. He says a lot of people end up in his jail after they started using drugs.
“Because I learned from the inmates that 90-percent of them are in prison because of addictions to drugs and alcohol and almost all of them started doing drugs and alcohol when they were in middle and high school.”
For the past two years, Evangelidis has visited almost 50,000 kids in the county presenting his program called face to face. Using pictures and videos, Evangelidis says he shows students the dangers of drugs through examples they can relate to.
“Well I show the before and after photographs of people like Lindsay Lohan. I show where she was a famous movie star, now she’s famous for being in courtrooms and being in prison and they laugh but they get it.”
“It’s real. It’s relatable,” says Jason Defalco, Sullivan Middle School principal.
Principal Defalco says the message is current. He’s already planning on having the sheriff back next year.
“He used a lot of different kind of visual clips, music. He really got the kids’ attention and the message again was relevant.”
Eighth grader Michael Safo Agyeman says some of the visuals were scary but it shows how drugs can harm people.
“I think a lot of people they don’t want to end up like that. That they want to have good, successful lives. That they want to have jobs in the future and not end up in jail.”
Michael was among 800 7th and 8th graders listening to the program on Tuesday. Evangelidis says even at that age, kids are getting involved with drugs. If they’re not, he wants to at least bring the message to them.
“And I believe every time I do this, we’re going to save somebody from making those choices, maybe more than one.”
Sep 9, 2013
By Staff reports
August 29, 2013
In the commonwealth of Massachusetts including Worcester County, nearly 40 percent of offenders return to prison within three years of their release. Many offenders reenter society with few resources and little direction, a scenario which often leads to the commission of new crimes and a revolving door in and out of incarceration.
The impact on public safety and public health is enormous. According to the Massachusetts Department of Correction, the annual cost to house an inmate in Massachusetts is nearly $46,000. To improve public safety and reduce recidivism, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis is unveiling an After Incarceration Support Services program (AISS) for all of Worcester County.
The Sheriff also announces the opening of the first ever After Incarceration Support Center for Worcester County including an expanded partnership with the Worcester Initiative for Support Reentry (WISR). The mission of the Sheriff’s center as well as the expanded collaborative with WISR is to help guide former prisoners in Worcester County during the reintegration process.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was recently held at the new AISS center at 340 Main St. in Worcester.
” … I am very pleased that we are introducing our new AISS program and partnering with WISR to offer substantive reentry transition services that are essential to our community,” said Sheriff Lew Evangelidis. “With our new AISS program, WISR will connect former inmates to the support services they need so they can live independently, stay out of trouble and stay out of jail.”
WISR in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office, expects to provide housing and employment services to approximately 35 AISS program participants through December 2013 and will continue to provide support and initiatives to AISS moving forward as well.”