Oct 28, 2013
10/15/2013 7:31:00 AM
News Staff Writer
GARDNER — Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis recently made a stop at Hillside Garden Apartments on Blanchard Street to visit an on-site inmate work crew.
“As sheriff it is always a pleasure for me to spend time in Gardner and I am thrilled to be here today with the inmate work crew as they assist Gardner’s Housing Authority with some much needed fall clean up of the Hillside Gardens Housing Complex which provides affordable housing for our elderly,” he said. “In addition to recently helping with this very worthy project, our inmate work crews have also been able to complete work at the Gardner VNA, Veterans Homestead, the Highway Department and the local Legion Post, providing Gardner’s community with well over $100,000 in savings. As sheriff I can not think of a better program where both the inmates and the community benefit.”
Since taking office in January 2011, Mr. Evangelidis said he has made efforts to more than triple the size of the Inmate Community Service Program, a move that has allowed budget-strapped communities to save nearly $3.5 million combined. To date, through the initiative, over 1,000 work projects have been completed.
According to Mr. Evangelidis, the program was designed to provide non-violent, non-sex offender individuals with an opportunity to learn job skills and foster a sense of self worth while productively assisting others.
Gardner Housing Authority Director Peter Gogeun said it was an honor to have the most recent crew visit the Chair City.
“Sheriff Evangelidis and the Inmate Community Service Program have been a tremendous partner to Gardner’s Housing Authority,” he said. “During the past week they completed much needed maintenance in all of our units at the Hillside Gardens Housing Complex and also assisted with fall clean up including removing leaves from all of the gutters and raking of all of the grounds. It’s been an honor to have them, they saved us many of thousands of dollars and they did a beautiful job.”
Oct 11, 2013
News photo by STEVE NYBERG
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, center, addresses those on hand for the annual Winter Coat Drive kick-off event at The Gardner Museum, Wednesday.
News Staff Writer
GARDNER — Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis’ annual Winter Coat Drive kicked off Wednesday at The Gardner Museum, which will serve as one of the main drop-off centers this season.
“One of my favorite things that we do every year is the coat drive. There is such a need in the community. It far exceeds what we are able to contribute. We are doing what we can,” the sheriff said. “It helps that we have so many great partners. Over the years, Wachusett Mountain has been our biggest donor, literally hundreds of coats — 500 to 1,000 at a time. They get us started. We also see such a great outpouring from communities such as Gardner.”
According to Mr. Evangelidis, last year’s campaign was a “great success” as more than 1,500 new and lightly used jackets were collected and distributed to families in need throughout the region.
“As many families continue to struggle during the winter months and especially during these tough economic times, winter coat donations are important this year more than ever,” he said.
For the third year in a row, the Gardner Community Action Committee will serve as the pickup location for the city and surrounding communities.
“I think the coat drive is wonderful. It is a huge asset to our community,” said CAC Director Julie Meehan.
“The donation of these new and lightly used jackets represents more than just a winter coat. They provide our clients with warmth, as well as a feeling of pride and self worth.”
The coat drive, initially launched as a volunteer effort through the Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association, is set to run through early December.
Oct 2, 2013
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis interviewed on Fox 25 News about the Face2Face Program.
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.