Young Offender Unit Opens at Middlesex Jail & House of Correction

Wilmington Apple

By Robert Hayes

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has formally begun a groundbreaking new initiative designed to reduce recidivism amongst young adult offenders in the New England’s most populous county.

The young offender unit is a result of a collaboration initiated by Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian with the Vera Institute of Justice. The MSO is the first local jurisdiction in the country to engage Vera as part of its Restoring Promise Initiative, which partners with state and local corrections agencies to transform living conditions for incarcerated young adults across the country in order to produce better outcomes for individuals and communities.

“With the launch of this unit, we are reimagining corrections,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “We are pursuing a better, more effective approach to the way we deal with the individuals in this critical population with a goal of not just reducing recidivism, but setting these individuals on a path to a more successful and fulfilling life.”

The new P.A.C.T. (People Achieving Change Together) program is specially designed for individuals aged 18- to 24. The name was coined by MSO staff members who will work in the unit.

The first group of P.A.C.T. participants moved into the repurposed space at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction on February 5, with a second group expected to move in later this month. Programming in the unit will be specifically geared towards addressing issues impacting young adult offenders.

As part of a review of the Commonwealth’s justice system in 2016, the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG) found 18-to 24-year-olds released from Massachusetts correctional facilities have higher recidivism rates than older offenders. CSG reported 52% of those released from houses of correction and 56% of those released by the department of correction were re-incarcerated within three years.

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