State trying to prevent released inmates from ending up back in jail

Cocchi: Recommendations show what is already working locally

LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – The state has released new recommendations on how to improve public safety and reduce the rates in which released inmates relapse into criminal behavior.

Two-thirds of those released from county houses of correction and more than half of those released from Massachusetts Department of Correction facilities return within three years.

With corrections spending more than $1 billion per year, Governor Charlie Baker requested that the Council of State Governments Justice Center conduct an analysis to help reduce those rates. The council recommended increasing funding for substance abuse programs, enhancing post-release supervision, and expanding access to earned good time credits for inmates completing programs during incarceration.

Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi said that the recommendations give a good gauge of what is already working.

“We have a DOC step-down approach that’s been taking place for many years. We work with the Department of Correction in taking folks that are going back out into our community from the Department of Correction- that are usually averaging about 5-10 years of a sentence- and reintegrating them back. So, it’s the best chance we have of putting people back into the community, less violent, and more likely to do the right thing,” Cocchi said.

The sheriff added that these recommendations take funding, but they will do what they can to help assist and learn.