By: Cyrus Moulton, Telegram and Gazette, June 16, 2021
WEST BOYLSTON – Officials cut the ribbon for a new 32,000-square-foot medical, mental health and intake building at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction on Wednesday, a facility speakers said will help not only help address substance-abuse and mental health issues among inmates but also provide a regional lockup facility for many smaller police departments.
“This is so important to what we do here,” Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis said at the ribbon cutting. “This will help keep people safe and help people turn their lives around to be better citizens.”
Gov. Charlie Baker agreed.
“This is not just a building,” Baker said. “This is a way of thinking about services, a way of thinking about corrections, a way of thinking about rehabilitation, and a way of thinking about how people are getting back on their feet to be productive members of society.
“Yes it’s a building,” Baker continued. “But more importantly, it provides a set of services, capabilities and collaborations that will serve the people of Central Mass. for years to come.”
The $26 million facility that is filled with natural light includes holding cells for prisoner intake; secure facilities for individuals who need to go through detoxification or receive medical treatment; a medical clinic complete with dental capabilities; rooms for mental health providers; administrative offices for staff, and more.
It provides both for the daily routine medical needs of the inmate population and is set up to deal with longer-term issues such as mental health treatment, substance-use treatment and co-occurring disorders.
In addition, it helps out smaller departments by providing a place for prisoners who cannot be let out on bail before court appearances.
Officials broke ground for the project in 2018, but Oxford Police Chief Anthony Saad said the concept for such a regional intake facility has been “in mind for many years.”
“To be quite honest, I lost faith,” Saad said.
But the facility is now here, and Saad said he and other chiefs were particularly excited that the facility will alleviate the burden for small, local departments to hold nonbailable prisoners for sometimes several days at a time.
“This is truly a valuable resource for many communities in Central Mass.,” Saad said. “This provides a direct benefit and cost savings….we’ll no longer have to post an officer at time-and-a-half just to monitor a prisoner.”
Meanwhile, Evangelidis referred both to the house of corrections community and the greater Central Mass. community in summing up the project.
“It makes our community a better, safer place,” Evangelidis said