Newspaper

Oct 8, 2015

Inmates Help Worcester, Leominster Dig Out

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

By Gary V. Murray

TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

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Jeffrey Leger of Gardner, right, and other inmates from the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction dig a path to the Green Island Neighborhood Center at Crompton Park in Worcester on Wednesday
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From left, Jamie Cote of Grafton, Anthony LaMarche of Worcester and James Ohop of Southbridge, along with other inmates from the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction, dig a path to the Green Island Neighborhood Center at Crompton Park in Worcester on Wednesday.

Inmates from the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction in West Boylston helped the cities of Worcester and Leominster dig out from under more than 2 feet of snow Wednesday.

About a dozen inmates who are participants in Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis’ Community Service Program spent the morning shoveling out Leominster City Hall, the Leominster District Court building, parking meters in the city and the area of the Common, according to Kimberly Roy, director of external affairs for the sheriff’s office.

In the afternoon, work crews from the program were shoveling snow at Crompton Park in Worcester.

The community service program provides cost-free labor by minimum-security inmates who have been convicted of a nonviolent and non-sexual offense and are within six months of completing their sentence. The inmates are monitored at all times by an armed officer.

“It benefits the communities, as well as the inmates,” Ms. Roy said of the program. Cities and towns save money on labor costs, according to Ms. Roy.

“And it gives the inmates a sense of giving back to the community and helps them with re-entry, as well. It’s the ultimate win-win,” she said.

“We had over 30 inches of snow, and what a relief to see them,” Leominster Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella said of the inmates who helped out. “We thank the sheriff for automatically knowing that we could use the help. The prisoners worked hard all day and made a huge improvement.”

Ms. Roy said Sheriff Evangelidis makes the needs of area communities a top priority of his community service program whenever a major storm strikes.

State courts in all but Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties were closed for a second day Wednesday because of the storm. State courts across Massachusetts were shut down Tuesday and only those in the four western counties, which were less affected by the storm, reopened Wednesday.

Oct 6, 2015

Sheriff Evangelidis Tells Tantasqua Students About Opioid Dangers

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Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis recently presented his Face2Face Drug & Alcohol Prevention Program to the 8th grade students at Tantasqua Regional Jr. High School.

 

STURBRIDGE — It is a sobering statistic that almost 90 percent of the inmates at the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction are incarcerated due to addiction issues. According to Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, if you ask any inmate today, most of them will tell you the same message: “I wish I could go back to middle and high school and make different choices with drugs and alcohol.”

On Jan 13, the sheriff brought exactly that message, along with footage from inside the jail, to the eighth grade students of Tantasqua Regional Jr. High School in Sturbridge, as part of his unique Face2Face drug & alcohol prevention program.

Since taking office in January of 2011, Sheriff Evangelidis has been on a mission with the county’s youth, having personally presented his Face2Face Program to over 125,000 students from across the region, and the sheriff shows no signs of letting up. With prescription drug and opioid use among teens at an all-time high, the sheriff has made sure to keep up with the newer drug trends in his Face2Face presentation.

Heavily concentrating his message on the perils of prescription opioid use with the students, Sheriff Evangelidis tells them it can often lead a person “down a dark path” to using harder drugs like heroin.

As the sheriff explains “No one tells you when they sell you that first pill that six months later you could end up with a needle in your arm,” in reference to the costly amount per milligram of prescription pills versus the fraction of the cost on the street for a bag of heroin that offers a comparable high.

Added to the presentation are newer trendy drugs such as Molly, commonly referred to as a “pure” form of the drug MDMA (ecstasy). Its recent spike in use among young people has resulted in scores of emergency room visits and deaths in teens and college students who take the drug while attendingclub shows and rave concerts.

Sheriff Evangelidis makes sure in his Face2Face presentation not to sugar-coat the drug with the sweet sounding name. The students are shown pictures of filthy drug labs where Molly is made, as well as hearing the myths and facts of its use directly from the sheriff as he reminds them, “there is no such thing as a safe or pure form of Molly.”

Oct 6, 2015

Worcester Sheriff Gets Grant to Help Inmates

Saturday, January 24, 2015

By Samantha Allen

TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

 

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Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis talks about the Second Chance Act grant award.

 

WEST BOYLSTON — The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office accepted what officials say is the largest federal grant award they’ve ever received, with a plan to use nearly $750,000 to better inmates during their time behind bars.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded a Second Chance Act “Enhanced Re-entry Program” grant to the sheriff’s office totaling $749,924 to improve the facility’s programs for re-entry into the community. The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts will donate $375,000 toward a match required by the grant. The sheriff’s office has pledged $421,580 as well, bringing the total to more than $1.5 million. The Worcester County office was one of seven to receive the federal Second Chance award nationwide.

Officials say that in Worcester County, nearly 50 percent of offenders return to prison within three years of their release. According to researchers at Brandeis University, the Worcester County House of Correction is “on par” with other facilities in the state, with a recidivism rate of 40 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to Brandeis University’s Mary Brolin. That means in those years, an average of two out of five inmates returned to the jail.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance has partnered with Brandeis to study the implementation of these programs, according to the sheriff’s office, “to ensure the most effective use of taxpayer dollars as well as their efficacy and outcomes.”

Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis said Friday the solution to bettering society isn’t keeping prisoners for long periods of time. He said an improved program like this will help the county overall.

“Warehousing inmates doesn’t work,” he said. “We have people we need to put in prison …We have to be tough on crime, but we have to understand we have to be smart on crime, too.”

Sheriff Evangelidis said rehabilitation is necessary to help troubled people stay out of jail, but also to keep costs down for taxpayers. He said a person charged with breaking and entering can cost the system hundreds of thousands of dollars in police investigation time and resources expended through court, too.

Rebecca Pellegrino, special sheriff with Sheriff Evangelidis’ office, congratulated him on the grant Friday afternoon in the presence of U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, as well as Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

“(The sheriff) has remained consistent to his pledge to make sure that every inmate who enters this facility is a better person when they leave,” Ms. Pellegrino said.

Donald Siergie, the sheriff’s office’s director of re-entry and reintegration, said in his mind, re-entry begins at “day one” at the West Boylston-based jail.

“We know this. We practice this model to some degree,” he said. “With the advent of these additional funds, this is going to get us to the next generation of re-entry here at the Worcester County House of Correction.”

Mr. Siergie said an average of 6,000 people come through the facility each year, though a majority of those inmates are pretrial detainees who will likely stay a short period of time.

“We need to focus on the people who will be here for 60 days to 2½ years,” he said.

With this money, a new orientation unit will be created called “the new man unit,” which will help assess inmates, as well as their mental health needs, when they come to the West Boylston site. That will lead, Mr. Siergie said, to the development of individualized plans.

In addition, a “Wiser Men” program will assist a minimum of 75 and as many as 100 sentenced male inmates with a medium to high risk of re-offending. The goal with those men will be to reduce recidivism by 50 percent in five years.

Those inmates will have pre-release services available to them including substance abuse treatment, vocational training, cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health counseling, and anger management and education services. Post-release services will involve care management to assist with housing, employment, access to health care, and addiction recovery for up to 12 months through Advocates Inc.

Mr. McGovern joked that perhaps members of Congress would benefit from programs like these to make them “wiser.” He said the program was important, especially considering how much money goes toward incarcerating criminals.

“State spending on corrections has skyrocketed from $12 billion in 1988 to more than $50 billion in 2011,” he said. “At a time when budgets are tight, we should look for innovative ways to cut those costs.”

Mr. Early called this grant an example of “good government.”

“(Getting $750,000) is not an easy thing to do,” he said. “The answer isn’t building bigger jails. No. It’s getting smart on crime, doing the right things, and this grant will do just that.”

Oct 6, 2015

Doing Time, Rebuilding Lives in Worcester County

Grant helps sheriff’s office launch inmate-support program

By Michael Hartwell

01/24/2015

FITCHBURG — The phrase of the day at Friday’s press conference in the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office was “smart on crime.” 

The sheriff’s office just received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help inmates re-enter society without falling back into a life of crime, the largest such grant the county has ever received. 

The Enhanced Re-entry Program grant was matched with $375,000 from The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts and $421,580 from the sheriff’s office to create a $1.5 million program. 

Speaking at the press conference, Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis said the program will get to the root of the problem by helping inmates with problems that lead them back to crime, like substance abuse and mental-health problems.

"We can be tough on crime, but we have to be smart on crime," Worcester Country Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis said during a press conference

“We can be tough on crime, but we have to be smart on crime,” Worcester Country Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis said

during a press conference announcing a federal $750,000 grant to help inmates re-enter society.

“We have people that need to be put in prison, put behind bars and incarcerated,” said Evangelidis. “But we also understand that warehousing inmates doesn’t work. We understand that we can be tough on crime, but we have to be smart on crime.” 

Citing figures from the Massachusetts Department of Correction, he said it costs nearly $46,000 to house an inmate in Massachusetts for one year. No average cost of government response to a crime was given, but he said police, legal and court fees can total more than $100,000 for just one breaking and entering crime. That doesn’t include the intangible costs to society, such as the human cost, he said.

Almost half of Massachusetts offenders returning to prison within three years of their release and Evangelidis said the grant will allow them to target inmates for recidivism prevention the day they arrive. He said about 90 percent are hooked on drugs or alcohol. 

“The answer isn’t building bigger jails, No, it’s getting smart on crime,” said Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. “This grant will do just that.” 

Evangelidis and Early gave U.S. Rep.

POSITIVE STEPS: As Worcester Country Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis looks on, Worcester County inmate Jim Ohop Jr. paints the floor in a bathroom at the New

POSITIVE STEPS: As Worcester Country Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis looks on, Worcester County inmate Jim Ohop Jr. paints the floor in a bathroom at the New Patriots Veteran Outreach Center in Fitchburg on Thursday.

Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, credit for helping Worcester have one of seven sheriff’s offices in the nation to receive the grant. 

“This is a community that is tough on crime, but being tough on crime also means being smart about it,” said McGovern. “It makes absolutely no sense to house somebody in jail for a period of time only to have them leave and return. We’ve got to find new and innovative ways to do this better.” 

In an interview after the press conference, Evangelidis said instead of the mere minutes they spend evaluating incoming inmates, the re-entry program will allow them to spend days seeing what their needs are and then put them into programs designed to treat any substance-abuse problems or psychological problems.

From left, Jan Yost, president and CEO of The Health Foundation of Central Mass.; Diane Gould, president and CEO of Advocates Inc.; Worcester Country From left, Jan Yost, president and CEO of The Health Foundation of Central Mass.; Diane Gould, president and CEO

of Advocates Inc.; Worcester Country Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis; U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern; and Worcester County

District Attorney. Joseph D. Early Jr. join for a photo Friday during the announcement of grant funds for inmate

support.

It will also help them get education and vocational training. 

“Anything that they need, we’re going to now be able to better identify and better offer,” he said. 

Once released, the program will help them transition into community programs, as well as follow and track their progress. That will allow them to figure out what is working and where the program needs to be tweaked. 

Evangelidis said their goal is to lower recidivism by 50 percent in the next five years.

Worcester Country Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, right, talks with New Patriots Veteran Outreach Center Co-Chairmen Earl Marshall, left, and John Lyle during

Worcester Country Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, right, talks with New Patriots Veteran Outreach Center Co-Chairmen Earl Marshall, left, and John Lyle during his visit Thursday.

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