As your sheriff I have tackled a full, ambitious agenda, but there is much more to be done. In the coming years, the Middlesex Sheriff will face several issues that must be handled quickly and effectively, in order to maintain the quality care, custody and control that the Middlesex Sheriff's Office is known for.
With your help and support, I will use my experience to face these issues head-on and continue to bring this storied agency into a modern era of progressive, efficient public safety.
The Middlesex Jail in Cambridge was built in the 1970s to house 160 pre-trial detainees. Today, it houses up to 400 individuals in that same space. In addition to the extreme overcrowding, this aging facility poses safety concerns due to deteriorating physical conditions.
Sheriff Koutoujian has re-opend negotiations with state agencies, including Administration & Finance, the Division of Capital Asset Management and the Governor's Office in order to find a quick and effective was to deal with this critical issue.
In coming years, planning for a new building and relocating the workers and inmates will be a major priority for Sheriff Koutoujian. It will take his legislative experience to navigate the process and his unwavering dedication to bring about a thoughtful, expeditious solution.
The Middlesex Sheriff's Office has the ability, and responsibility, to affect real change in our neighborhoods. It begins behind the walls, where new programs established by Sheriff Koutoujian are helping to cull gang and criminal activity information that is shared with law enforcement agencies on the streets. Other initiatives are rehabilitating and educating inmates, helping them prepare for re-entry into society so that they break the criminal cycle upon relase.
In the community, Sheriff Koutoujian has established and maintained strong partnerships with public safety agencies around the Commonwealth in order to share resources and best practices. For example, the Community Command Center is placed in high-crime areas as a deterrent to criminals and reassuring symbol to residents. This initiative has seen outstanding results.
Going forward, Sheriff Koutoujian will continue and increase programs like these to help keep streets safe. Programs such as prescription drug take-back and gun take-back centers will make a direct impact on the security of our communities.
Currently, the Middlesex Sheriff's Office is unable to house female detainees and inmates due to a lack of appropriate, dedicated space. Women in the county are housed at a state facility that has limited program opportunities.
Sheriff Koutoujian has utilized his legislative experience to develop a plan to study the feasibility of constructing a female facility for the Middlesex Sheriff's Office. He is an advocate of creating a regional house of correction dedicated to female inmates that would facilitate rehabilitation, education and progressive programming options.
Progressive new inmate programming is the key to helping inmates break the cycle of criminal behavior and become productive members of society upon release. Sheriff Koutoujian has already established several new, successful programs such as the Xerox Corrections to Career Printing Program and the Green Custodial Certification Program, both of which teach inmates a skill that translates into jobs outside.
Moving forward, Sheriff Koutoujian would like to take further steps in building the inmate programming at the Middlesex Sheriff's Office. For example, given the link between education and crime prevention, Sheriff Koutoujian would like to expose inmates to community college or associate degree classes. The inmate population at the Middlesex Sheriff's Office has a relatively high education level, with 68% having completed high school. This next step in the academic process will put many individuals on the right track and increase the likelihood that they will continue with higher education upon release.
Another proposed program is to educate inmates on financial literacy. By teaching the fundamentals of finance, individuals will have greater fiscal independence and greater ability to repair their credit and maintain healthy financial standing.
Domestic violence prevention has been paramount for Sheriff Koutoujian throughout his career. As part of increased rehabilitation services, he intends to be more aggressive in integrating domestic violence prevention programming.
Sheriff Koutoujian also plans to address the troubling issue of teen dating violence. Approximately 20% of female teens in Massachusetts report experiencing teen dating violence. During the teenage years, it is important to promote healthy relationship and prevent the patterns of dating violence that can last into adulthood. Sheriff Koutoujian will look to ways the Middlesex Sheriff's Office can play a bigger role in educating young people on healthy relationships and recognizing signs that could lead to violence.
Employers must take a more active role in providing an environmentally-friendly workplace. This is no different at the Middlesex Sheriff's Office, where Sheriff Koutoujian has made it a priority to bring a more "green" way of thinking to this historic agency.
In the coming months, the Office will explore the possibility of installing solar panels as a source of alternative energy, which could yield both financial and environmental benefits. Through grants and incentive programs, a solar initiatve could result in large taxpayer savings and a reduction to the carbon footprint.
A more aggressive recycling program is on tap and will include an audit into the current waste removal system, in order to find the most effective and environmentally-friendly process.
In conjunction with the Division of Capital Asset Management, the Middlesex Sheriff's Office will perform an energy audit of the department. This will provide a roadmap to reducing and streamlining energy consumption, as well as illuminate areas of cost-savings.