Sheriff Peter J Koutoujian welcomed members of the Legislature and their staffs to the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction on July 10 for a discussion of ongoing initiatives and programs.
The visit was organized in conjunction with the Legislature’s Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus and was the first stop on a series of visits planned at correctional facilities across the Commonwealth.
Monday’s visit focused on a number of areas, particularly the behavioral health needs of justice-involved individuals across Middlesex County. In 2016, 42% of all individuals entering the facility required medical detox, while 46% reported a history of mental illness.
“I want to thank members of the Harm Reduction Caucus for taking the time to visit with us,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “The men and women of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office play a pivotal role in our justice system, and we are extremely proud of the work we do here each day to reduce recidivism and keep our communities safe. We value every opportunity we have for members of the Legislature to visit and see this work and our innovative programming first-hand.”
“These visits to our county jails and houses of corrections are so important for legislators and staff. Not only must we understand the present problems and challenges, but we must also witness and advocate for potential solutions and programs that strengthen our systems, reduce recidivism, and improve the lives of those re-entering society” said Representative Mary S. Keefe, co-chair of the Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus (D-Worcester). “We had a full day with Sheriff Koutoujian and staff and we are grateful for this opportunity to learn more about what is happening at the Middlesex County House of Correction.”
“I would like to thank Sheriff Koutoujian and his team for the informative tour of the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge, co-chair of the Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus (D-Acton). “Our members were grateful for the opportunity to learn about the Sheriff’s new initiatives and are encouraged by their potential to reduce recidivism.”
Monday’s visit included stops in the facility’s Health Services Unit (HSU), the Housing Unit for Military Veterans (HUMV) and a pre-trial unit where the MSO is currently piloting an educational tablet initiative. Last year, HSU staff had over 178,000 medical contacts with individuals in custody.
A recent snapshot of HUMV participation showed that of 92 men who spent at least 30 days in HUMV and were subsequently released, only five have been rearrested and four have had violations of parole, while none have been convicted of a new crime.
Also discussed during Monday’s visit was the MSO’s Medication Assisted Treatment And Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) Program. MATADOR incorporates the use of an injectable form of Naltrexone (a non-habit forming, non-narcotic, long lasting medication which blocks the effects of opioids), combined with counseling and support from a patient navigator. Through the first 20 months of the initiative, the MSO has seen a measured impact on recidivism, with less than 10 percent of total program participants having been convicted of a new crime.