$750,000 grant gives inmates new start; Sheriff's office gets its largest US award.

AuthorAllen, Samantha

Byline: Samantha Allen

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...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT