November 12, 2019 (Tuesday, 7:00-8:30pm) – Sheriff Koutijian on Criminal Justice. LWVN hosted Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian at the Angier Elementary School. This forum was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters from Acton, Arlington, Weston and Winchester. Sheriff Koutoujian spoke to an audience of over 40 people about the work of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, partnerships with local law enforcement, and efforts to address the needs of justice-involved individuals with substance use and mental health disorders. He also discussed innovative programs for incarcerated military veterans and young adult offenders.
Though the Sheriff spoke about multiple programs, the descriptions of which can be found on the Middlesex Sheriff Office – Programming website. However there are two highlighted below:
Landmark Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) pilot program “Arresting and incarcerating our way out of addiction is not – and has never been – an option,” said Middlesex Sheriff, and Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association President, Peter J. Koutoujian, who worked with legislators last year to craft the language for the pilot. “Massachusetts sheriffs have been at the forefront of this crisis, implementing innovative and evidence-based initiatives aimed at improving the health outcomes of justice-involved individuals with opioid use disorder. This pilot is the thoughtful, comprehensive next step and one that is being watched by colleagues not just here in the Commonwealth, but across the country.” As part of the pilot, individuals entering facilities in the seven counties on any of the three FDA-approved MAT regimens (buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone) will have the ability to continue their treatment regimen while incarcerated, unless determined otherwise by a qualified addiction specialist. Sentenced inmates not on a verified MAT regimen at the time of their commitment may also be evaluated for participation 30 days prior to their scheduled release.
The Housing Unit for Military Veterans – or HUMV – opened in January 2016 and is the first correctional unit in Massachusetts specifically designed for individuals who have served in the military. The unit is open to both sentenced inmates and pretrial detainees, who have served at home or abroad. HUMV was conceived and designed as a collaborative effort of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office together with incarcerated Veterans with a goal of treating and preparing them for successful reentry. HUMV’s barracks-style layout, combined with wellness and treatment programs, as well as guest speakers allow Veterans to call on their camaraderie and their shared military experiences to address the challenges which have led to their incarceration. HUMV is similar to a modified therapeutic community, where a typical day includes lectures and cognitive behavioral therapy groups, among other programs. Participants also have regular meetings with state and federal Veterans affairs representatives, substance abuse treatment, vocational and employment readiness training. HUMV staff work with offenders to create individualized comprehensive reentry plans which address the specific needs of each Veteran and regularly works with the Veterans Court to divert appropriate cases. With this unit, we are helping those who have served our nation find their way to better days.
Special thanks go to :
- Alice Donisi-Feehan who was instrumental in pulling this very successful and informative evening together.
- Frieda Dweck, Sue Flicop, Karen Manning, and Lisa Mirable for the multi-media promotional effort.
- Our co-Spoonsors: the League of Women Voters of Arlington, Norwood, Sudbury, Wayland, and Weston