Middlesex Sheriff’s Office gathers community professionals to discuss employment opportunities for former inmates

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LOWELL, Mass. – Professionals from five community organizations convened in Lowell for three days last month to discuss ways to better support former inmates seek and retain employment.

Twenty employees from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, MassHire Greater Lowell Workforce Board, the MassHire Lowell Career Center, the Massachusetts Probation Service, and Phoenix Multisport participated in the September 11-13 training. The program was sponsored by, and facilitated through, the Offender Employment Retention Initiative offered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Corrections (NIC).

“We know employment is a core component of successful reentry,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “With the assistance of this NIC program, we hope to enhance the efforts we and our partners undertake everyday seeking to assist individuals gain meaningful and steady employment, reduce recidivism and enhance public safety.”

The program involved classroom instruction in the principles of motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as group discussions focused on how these agencies can work collaboratively to build long-term employment opportunities for individuals returning to the community.

At the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction, the MSO offers several educational, vocational and treatment initiatives designed to help individuals prepare for a successful re-entry including culinary arts, custodial training, OSHA certification and ServSafe certification, as well as the Medication Assisted Treatment and Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) program. Individuals nearing the end of their sentences who have completed individualized treatment plans may also be eligible to participate in community work and work release programs.