Statement of Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian on Launch of National Law Enforcement Effort to Address Criminal Justice Reform

Today, I am incredibly proud to join my law enforcement colleagues from across the country as a founding member of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration.

From our state capitals to the nation’s capital, elected officials, advocates and citizens are engaged in a passionate debate about the most effective ways to reduce crime and incarceration, while ensuring public safety. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement agencies across the country are on the front lines of this issue everyday and are able to provide insights based on our shared experiences.

One of the four main areas of focus for Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration is to address the growing number of incarcerated individuals who suffer from mental health and substance abuse issues. On any given day, 80 percent of those at the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction have an underlying addiction issue and over one-third are monitored by mental health staff. Any conversation regarding criminal justice reform must include policy improvements in this area.

A second area on which I personally am committed to focusing on in Massachusetts is on pretrial reform. A recent audit of the pretrial population conducted – at my request – by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) showed our average daily jail population in Middlesex County grew by 30 percent over a six-year period. This analysis showed the need for Massachusetts to implement a validated risk assessment tool to assist in the bail determination process.

Today, law enforcement leaders stand ready to bring valuable experience and knowledge to this crucial discussion with the goal of creating a stronger, more equitable justice system while reducing recidivism and saving valuable taxpayer dollars. As a Sheriff, former prosecutor and former defense attorney I have seen the justice system from many perspectives and I look forward to bringing my experiences to this crucial, important dialogue.