U.S. Attorney’s Office Returns More Than $235 Million in Fiscal Year 2020 to Crime Victims and the United States Government
BOSTON – U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz announced today that her Office will partner with the Office of Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian to create the Lowell High-Risk Reentry Initiative. Drawing on their experience with reentry programs throughout the Commonwealth, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office convened the initiative together with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office and Lowell Police Department, in an effort to assist individuals being released from prison and prevent them from re-engaging in criminal conduct.
“Our criminal justice system must be focused just as much on preventing crime as in punishing past criminal conduct,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “It is essential for public agencies to assist individuals released from prison in finding a new way of life when they return to their communities. This means lawful employment, stable housing, critical healthcare, and the other essential elements of a productive life. We look forward to the interagency and community partnerships that will measurably contribute to a decrease in crime and improvement in the quality of life for Lowell residents.”
The Lowell High-Risk Reentry Initiative is part of a nationwide trend to reform the paradigm of punishing repeat criminals with more prison time. A 2010 Harvard University study of Massachusetts county jail high-risk reentry programs, funded by the District of Massachusetts’s Project Safe Neighborhoods grant, compared recidivism rates of county jails that offer pre-release programs for inmates with jails that do not offer the programs. The results of the study revealed a 23 percent reduction in violent recidivism rates for program participants versus those who did not take part in the initiatives.
Through the Lowell High-Risk Reentry Initiative, federal, state, and local law enforcement join forces with social service agencies, mental health and substance abuse providers and faith-based organizations to tackle the complexities associated with reentry into the community after incarceration. Team members with the Lowell High-Risk Reentry Initiative will work with an average of 80 to 90 high-risk inmates per year.
High-risk prisoners participating in the reentry program will be provided with information at bi-monthly meetings regarding pre- and post-incarceration services, as well as the consequences of reoffending. For many, reoffending could result in significant state or federal prison sentences.
Through the Lowell High-Risk Reentry Initiative, participants will be offered “wrap-around” services, receiving focused assistance from social service providers, probation officers and others to ensure accountability and continuity of care. They will be provided enhanced opportunities to participate in employment training, education programs, substance abuse and mental health treatment. Prior to release, participants will be encouraged to build relationships with individuals representing resources that are needed for success on the outside, including the probation officer who is a crucial component of the program. Participants will undergo intense supervision upon release from prison to ensure greater success and accountability.
The Lowell High-Risk Reentry Initiative’s social services and mental health partners include: Career Center of Lowell, Community Teamwork, Lowell House, South Bay Day Services (Lowell Mental Health), Greater Lowell Workforce Development Board, UTEC, South Bay Community Services, Middlesex Community College, and Place of Promise. Middlesex County Superior Court Probation, Lowell District Court Probation and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue are also partners in the initiative.
The Lowell High-Risk Reentry Initiative’s model is based on the award-winning Boston Reentry Initiative (BRI), which has achieved measurable success and national attention for its model of recidivism reduction. Both programs focus their resources on inmates who pose the greatest risks to reoffend.