Oct 18, 2016
Press Release from the Office of
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis
Sheriff’s Office K9 Maya Receives Gift of Protective Vest
West Boylston – The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office announced today its K9 Maya, a two year old single purpose trailing bloodhound, has received her bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Maya’s vest was sponsored by the Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. 2015 “Santa Paws and Grinch” fundraiser hosted by Especially for Pets in Medway, MA and is embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of K9’s Molly and Adam”.
Officer Peter Campo has been Maya’s handler since January 2015. Together they work out of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department where they are trained to conduct missing persons searches, criminal apprehensions and routinely assists local communities in active searches.
“Maya is now safer on the job, thanks to her bullet and stab resistant vest donated by Vested Interest. We’re grateful to Vested Interest in K9s for facilitating this donation for Maya, as well as the community members that attended the fundraising event that made the donation possible.” said WCSO Officer Peter Campo.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. Thenon-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 2,000 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over 1.7 million dollars. All vests are custom made in the USA by Armor Express in Central Lake, MI.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
The donation to provide one protective vest for a-law enforcement K9 is $1,050.00. Each vest has a value between $1,795 – $2,234 and a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There is an estimated 30,000-law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.
“The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office is very appreciative of the Vested Interest in K9s Organization for their generous donation of a bullet and stab protective vest for our K9 Maya. Our K9’s work very hard each day facing challenging situations and keeping us safe, it’s extremely important we do all we can to help keep them safe in the line of duty.” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.
Oct 15, 2016
Over 3,000 New & Lightly Used Winter Coats, Scarfs & Mittens to be Distributed
Princeton – On a beautiful Fall day while standing at the base of Wachusett Mountain along side many community partners, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis announced the kickoff of the 2016 Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive for Worcester County. The Sheriff’s Coat Drive is annual event that provides new or lightly used winter coats to families in need throughout Worcester County and is a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Office of Community Corrections, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Warmer Winters of Leominster, Rutland Women’s Knitting Club, Twin City Cleaners of Dudley & Independent Cleaners of Fitchburg.
“Last year the Sheriff’s Winter Coat Drive was a great success, providing over 3,000 new and lightly used winter jackets to families in need throughout Worcester County. Today with the kickoff of the 2016 Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive and with the help of our tremendous community partners, we are determined to surpass that goal.” Evangelidis continued “As many families continue to struggle, coat donations are needed more than ever. It is very important to do all we can to help those who may be less fortunate and providing an adequate winter jacket can be of great help during the cold winter months.” said the Sheriff.
This year’s winter coat drive received a huge boost during the kickoff announcement with a donation from Wachusett Mountain Ski Area of over 1,500 winter coats. “With today’s donation of over 1,500 winter jackets from Wachusett Mountain Ski Area & the Crowley Family, we are well on our way to having a very successful coat drive that will be able to help so many families. We cannot thank them them enough for their overwhelming generosity.” said Evangelidis.
“It’s an honor for us to be part of the Sheriff’s Coat Drive each year. The families who come to our ski swap are so happy to see the ski jackets and coats they no longer use go to such a wonderful cause, it’s great to help out.” said Carolyn Crowley Stimpson, Vice President Wachusett Mountain Ski Area.
This year winter coat donations will be provided to the Gardner Community Action Center, Our Father’s House of Fitchburg, Cleghorn & Spanish American Centers of Leominster, St. John’s Food Program for the Poor, The Friendly House & Veteran’s Inc of Worcester, Also scheduled to receive coats are Rutland Food Pantry, Saint Anne’s Food Pantry of Shrewsbury, Tradewinds, Catholic Charities and the Arc of Hope of Southbridge as well as many other charitable organizations throughout the region.
The Sheriff’s Coat Drive will be ongoing now through the end of November, donations of new or lightly used winter jackets may be dropped off at the Fitchburg Office of Community Corrections at 19 Fairmont Place – Fitchburg, the Gardner Museum, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Hannaford Supermarkets of Lunenburg & Leominster, Lundgren Honda of Auburn, Planet Fitness of Leominster, Hearing & Balance Center of New England, Holden Senior Center, Oriol Healthcare, The Overlook, Care One, Herlihy Insurance, Unum Insurance, Austin Liquors of Shrewsbury, Chick-Fil-A of Westborough, Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Regional Resource Center at 562 Main St – Webster, Twin City Cleaners of Dudley & Independent Cleaners of Fitchburg or scheduled for pick up by calling 508-796-2638.
Pictured in Photo 1:
Sheriff & Ski Mountain Team Up for Annual Winter Coat Drive.
The Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive kicked off at the base of Wachusett Mountain on Friday, October 14th along with Sheriff Evangelidis were representatives of Wachusett Mountain, coat drive volunteers & community partners. Wachusett Mountain Ski Area donated the first 1,500 coats to the Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive which will go on to distribute over 3,000 winter jackets to families in need during the first week of December.
Pictured in Photo 2:
Sheriff & Ski Mountain Team Up for Annual Winter Coat Drive. Pictured from left to right Reserve Deputy Ellen Savickas of Paxton, Carolyn Crowley Stimpson Vice President Wachusett Mountain Ski Area and Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis. Wachsett Mountain Ski Area donated the first 1,500 coats to the Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive which will go on to distribute over 3,000 winter jackets to families in need during the first week of December.
Sep 19, 2016
Pictured in Photo:
Pictured left to right are WCSO Officer Bryan Almstrom, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, volunteer Luke Dery, Webster Dudley Food Share Vice President Mary Jane Sullivan, Board Member Vincent Silvestre & President James Alkire. A special delivery of fresh vegetables were recently donated by Sheriff Evangelidis to the food share program that were grown by sheriff’s inmate farming program located at the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction
Webster – The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office announced its 5th Organic Farming Season is well under way. Tended to by inmate labor and located on a 12 acre parcel of jail land, the farm is maintained and sustained all for under a thousand dollars. Recently, Sheriff Evangelidis stopped by the Webster Dudley Foodshare to deliver fresh organic produce grown by the inmate farming program including green beans, summer squash, zucchini & potatoes. In addition to the Webster delivery, over 5,000 pounds of fresh prison produce have already been distributed to dozens of local food banks, veteran groups and food pantries throughout Worcester County. “It’s a tremendous program that teaches inmates skills and feeds the community.” said Evangelidis.
Staff from the Webster Dudley Food Share were happy to receive the Sheriff’s donation as well. “Our mission is to do whatever it takes to ensure members of our community don’t go hungry. We are open 52 weeks a year, twice a week to help feed all that need it and today’s delivery of fresh vegetables is a tremendous help. We can’t thank the Sheriff and his team enough for this generous produce donation.” said Webster Dudley Food Share President James Alkire.
“For us, jail farming is a growing trend that helps so many. Inmates learn new skills and a sense of self-worth and dignity that comes from a day of farming work at the same time local food banks and those in need in our community benefit as well.” said the Sheriff.
Aug 1, 2016
By: Laura Finaldi
Worcester Business Journal
As workforce development continues to be a pressing issue for Central Massachusetts employers, greater efforts are being made to tap into a portion of the population numbering more than 10,000 to help fill that need – the incarcerated.
Mount Wachusett Community College in July announced it was one of 67 colleges nationwide selected by the U.S. Department of Education pilot program to provide education and job training for inmates.
The pilot is part of a push from the Obama Administration to spearhead criminal justice reform by preparing ex-offenders to reenter the community with skills and resources they need to obtain long-term employment.
As Massachusetts focuses on filling the workforce skills gap, workforce development advocates said tapping into the state’s incarcerated population could help fill those needs, while at the same time hopefully reducing recidivism and creating productive members of society.
“The single biggest issue we hear from members is workforce pipeline capacity, from employers from all different sectors and all different sizes. Whatever we can do to get as many qualified and motivated employees in the field is going to benefit employers,” said Timothy Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.
January data from the Massachusetts Department of Correction show its population in Massachusetts is dropping. As of Jan 1., there were 10,014 inmates in Massachusetts jails, compared to 11,723 in 2012 and 10,813 in 2015.
Of the 9,355 total males under the state’s jurisdiction, 96 percent were serving a sentence longer than three years while 59 percent of the 659 females under the state’s jurisdiction were sentenced for longer than three years.
Daniel Asquino, MWCC president, has been a strong advocate for using the this population to fill workforce needs.
“Education is a page turner for a number of individuals. It really provides entry into a good job. It’s the right thing to do, a from humanitarian point of view,” Asquino said.
The federal grant isn’t MWCC’s first foray into training the incarcerated for jobs. In January, the college began offering a workforce training program with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office for inmates at the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction. The program offers industry readiness training to interested inmates in four different modules with 15 students each: blueprint reading, measurement tools, computer skills and lean quality, said Lisa Gobi, director of education at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
The classes are part of Mount Wachusett’s manufacturing certificate, offered at the school’s Devens campus, Gobi said. Inmates could go finish their certificate on campus after their release.
“A lot of these students don’t know where to begin. The younger population, they don’t have many skills, or maybe they’ve never worked,” she said. “This just kind of gives them an edge up on and a little bit of empowerment, because they have something they can walk out of here with. Their time in here isn’t wasted. They’re working towards something that can be useful.”
Productive members of society
According to a January policy brief from MassINC, a bipartisan think tank geared towards supporting the state’s middle class, about two-thirds of defendants Massachusetts sends to state and county prisons are repeat offenders.
Former offenders are less likely to be jailed again if they are able to secure a good job upon their release, but those who enter low-wage, non-steady employment as just as likely to commit crimes again as ex-offenders without a job, according to MassINC.
The value of transitional employment and training, which are offered by many re-entry programs, also seems to be limited, the brief found, because it’s difficult to connect ex-offenders with steady, unsubsidized jobs.
As of Jan. 1, the average institutional length of stay for the Massachusetts DOC jurisdiction population was nearly two and a half years, according to the department. The majority of 2015 criminally sentenced releases (37 percent) were sent back into the community with no supervision, followed closely by probation (35 percent), parole (18 percent) and parole and probation (11 percent).
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis said he hears this loud and clear. The first-term sheriff said he’s happy with how inmates have responded to and benefitted from the MWCC job training program so far, but also said he knows there’s a lot of work to be done, especially when it comes to connecting inmates with sustainable employment.
“One of my goals is to assemble a business development council that would work with sheriff’s department on placement. I’m very interested in assembling a group of business leaders that would help me integrate people into the workforce,” he said.
This could benefit qualified inmates who have demonstrated engagement with their training and interest in turning their lives around, Evangelidis said.
“I always like to reiterate: We don’t coddle inmates. We don’t have the resources, time or patience to do that, but we do give people an honest opportunity to turn their life around,” he said. “We’re here to help you, but you need to help yourself. We’ll meet you halfway … if you don’t meet us halfway, and don’t put the work in, you’re not going to stay [in the class].”
Through the U.S. Department of Education, MWCC will partner with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to provide academic programs for about 72 inmates at three different prisons: the North Central Correctional Institute in Gardner, the Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Shirley and the Federal Medical Center in Devens. The program is geared towards inmates on track for release over the next five years.
Specific details and training curricula for the Mount Wachusett’s portion of the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program hadn’t been decided on as of press time, Asquino said, but the program will likely be similar to the one the college runs with the sheriff’s office.
It will start early next year, he said.
“Most people in prison are going to be released in our neighborhoods and in our communities,” Asquino said. “Wouldn’t we rather have them gainfully employed and paying taxes?”
The three-year recidivism rate for Massachusetts prisoners released in 2012, including technical violations of parole or probation, was 32 percent, according to the Massachusetts DOC.
There has been a lot of talk about the need to fill the so-called workforce skills gap in Massachusetts. An October 2015 study by Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy projects a shortage of 1.2 million job openings between 2012 and 2022.
Murray, who in addition to his chamber position is a workforce development advocate and co-chair of the the Alliance for Vocational Technical Education, said tapping into the ex-offender population isn’t just a good idea – it’s critical.
“And that’s not just my opinion,” he said. “I’ve met countless police chiefs and people in law enforcement, who have said ‘If we’re going to expect people once they’re released not to go back to the life they were part of … you’ve got to have work opportunities available.'”
The Alliance for Vocational Technical Education is in its first year, so there are no specific plans regarding the incarcerated workforce population, Murray said. A goal of the alliance is to make voke/tech schools an 18-hour-a-day operation, meaning the technology at those schools could be accessible for more people – including the incarcerated.
“There’s a waiting list right now for kids to get into voke/tech schools. If we can open these schools for non-traditional hours … [kids] could come in at 3 p.m. and take a class,” he said. “Maybe the sheriff’s department could come in on Saturdays.”