SHERIFF MICHAEL G. BELLOTTI


Now in his third term as sheriff of Norfolk County, Michael G. Bellotti continues to emphasize innovation, collaboration and accountability as the keys to running an office that provides a positive force to help solve the public safety problems facing us today.

Sheriff Bellotti has been a trailblazer in developing an inmate re-entry program that reduces criminal recidivism by preparing inmates for a successful transition back into society. The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office was one of 15 agencies nationwide to be recognized and chosen by the U.S. Justice Department for a major grant to further develop the re-entry program.
Understanding that 99 percent of inmates return to their communities, Sheriff Bellotti believes in strong inmate programming. One of his innovations was to establish a jail housing unit specifically dedicated to treating the core issues of substance abuse.

A past president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association, Sheriff Bellotti is a strong advocate of continual professional training for correctional staff. The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office has more correction officers certified by the American Jail Association than any other correctional institution in the nation. In addition, the Norfolk County Correctional Center is one of only a handful of institutions throughout the country that has received accreditation from both the American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.

Sheriff Bellotti realizes that public safety reaches beyond the walls of the jail, and he has enthusiastically joined forces with the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (MetroLEC). The agency provides 43 southeastern Massachusetts towns with highly specialized law enforcement services such as K9 teams, a computer crime unit, special weapons and tactics (SWAT), and a crisis negotiating team. He also utilized a federal Homeland Security grant to create and administer the Rapid Alert Notification System (RANS), a reverse 911 program that sends alerts to community residents about public safety emergencies.

Sheriff Bellotti’s community programs have been hailed by educators, parents and local police for their positive impact on Norfolk County youths and senior citizens. His Youth Leadership Academy teaches kids about goal-setting, problem-solving, developing self-confidence and anti-bullying.

His “Are You OK?” program, which he introduced into Norfolk County in 2001 to provide daily well-being phone checks for hundreds of elderly citizens who live alone, has brought emergency medical help to more than 100 program participants.  Fallon Ambulance Service is a key partner in the program.

Sheriff Bellotti is the recipient of the Salvation  Army “Others Award,” the Paul Harris Fellowship Award from the Rotary Club of Quincy, St. Michael the Archangel Award from the Massachusetts Association of Italian American Police Officers, Rabbi Jacob Mann Award for Social Justice from Quincy District Court, the Honorable Maurice H. Richardson Award for Excellence in the Community, Sons of Italy Social Justice Award and the Project Lifesaver LoJack SafetyNet International Recognition Award, among others.

He has authored articles on various criminal justice and correctional issues which have been published in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Patriot Ledger as well as national corrections magazines.

Sheriff Bellotti is a graduate of New England School of Law and Boston College. He lives in Quincy with his wife and three children.

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Awards & Accreditations

The Norfolk County Correctional Center in Dedham is one of only 78 correctional institutions in the entire United States to be accredited by both the American Correctional Association (ACA) and the National Commission on Correctional Health (NCCHA) Care.

The Norfolk County Correctional Center is proud to have more officers certified by the American Jail Association than any other correctional facility in the nation.

The Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office has been officially recognized by the Norfolk County Prosecutors Association “in grateful appreciation for its service to the citizens of Norfolk County.”

For its excellence in providing health care to inmates, the Norfolk County Correctional Center was been as the “Facility of the Year” by the NCCHC in 1996.

Under Sheriff Bellotti, the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office's Electronic Incarceration Program -- through which offenders are confined to their homes -- became the first such program in New England and only the second in the United States to be accredited by the American Correctional Association.

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History

The Norfolk County Sheriff's Office has a rich history dating back to 1793 when Gov. John Hancock appointed Ebenezer Thayer as the county's first sheriff. Sheriff Bellotti is the 17th person to hold the office.

The word, "sheriff," is a blend of the old English words, "shire" and "reeve". A shire was a geographic area of jurisdiction, and a reeve was the person appointed by the king to keep peace and administer the laws of the land.

Old Dedham jail The current Norfolk County Correctional Center, which opened in 1992 at 200 West St. in Dedham, is the only correctional institution in the United States that is located between the lanes of an interstate highway. The jail sits between the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 95, also known as Route 128. The former jail, a handsome stone structure on Village Avenue in Dedham, has been converted to luxury condominiums.

The most notorious prisoners held in custody by the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office were Nicola Sacco and Bartolommeo Vanzetti. They were members of an Italian-American anarchist group known as The Galleanists when they were arrested for the murders of two Braintree shoe
company employees during a payroll robbery in 1920. Sacco and Vanzetti claimed they
had alibis.

Sacco and Vanzetti At trial, their defense witnesses primarily were fellow immigrants who testified in broken English or in Italian through a translator. The case generated a surge of anti-immigrant sentiment and received international media attention. The two men were executed in 1927 after their lawyers exhausted their court appeals, but there continued to be questions about whether they received a fair trail.

Years later, Gov. Michael Dukakis signed a proclamation stating, "Any stigma and disgrace should forever be removed from the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolommeo Vanzetti.

We are not here to say whether these men are guilty or innocent. We are here to say the high standards of justice, which we in Massachusetts take such pride in, failed Sacco and Vanzetti."

The last death penalty execution in Massachusetts took place on May 9, 1947 in Charlestown, but prior to that, executions were a relatively common occurrence. The last execution in Dedham occurred at the old jail on Village Avenue on June 25, 1875. The beam from which convicted murderer Henri Costley was hanged is still in a warehouse maintained by the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office. Costley had been convicted of murdering his housekeeper -- with whom he had a romantic relationship -- after he became engaged to his wife.

On Jan. 26, 1975, Norfolk County Correction Officer Joseph Stroy acted with extraordinary valor in the face of danger and suffered a bullet wound during an escape at the old Village Avenue jail.

Officers About 7p.m. that night, a fellow correction officer opened a cell door to allow an inmate to use a payphone. He was confronted by an inmate holding a gun pointed directly at his nose. The gunman and his cellmate grabbed the officer's keys. They opened two more cells, and a total of four inmates rushed to the "cage," from which the jail's main door was controlled.

Stroy manned the cage that night. Staring at the gun barrel thrust through the wire mesh about six feet away, Stroy refused the inmates' demands to open the door. Instead, he
turned to pull an alarm. The gunman fired, and Stroy slumped to the floor with a bullet in his back. The inmates stuck a broom handle through the cage to push a button and open the door.

Three of the four inmates were recaptured within 24 hours. The fourth was nabbed shortly after that. It was later determined that the escapees received their gun from an accomplice who threw it over the jail wall. Stroy never fully recovered from his wound, suffering paralysis in his left leg and ultimately losing it to amputation. Joe Stroy died in the 1989 at the age of 64.

On the morning of Nov. 25, 1978, a fire broke out in the north wing of the old Village Avenue jail. All 109 inmates were assembled in the jail courtyard while firefighters battled the blaze from outside the walls. With the help of area police departments and Sheriff's Offices, all 109 inmates were transferred to other jails - primarily in Billerica, Boston and Worcester. The entire move took just four hours.

Later, a handful of inmates with construction skills returned to the jail to live and rebuild the damaged section. The jail reopened for all inmates in January 1980.

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The High Sheriffs of Norfolk County

The office of Norfolk County Sheriff dates back to 1793, when Gov. John Hancock appointed Ebenezer Thayer as the first man to hold the office. The first nine sheriffs were appointed by governors until the Massachusetts legislature changed the law and made the Norfolk County Sheriff an elected position in 1856.

The office has had its share of distinguished and colorful characters. Among them:

Sheriff Benjamin Clarke Cutler presided over three death penalty executions in the early 1800s at the old Norfolk County Jail on Village Avenue in Dedham.

Sheriff Augustus Endicott ran the jail from 1885 until 1898 while simultaneously holding office as a state representative and Dedham selectman and serving as president of the Dedham National Bank and director of the Dedham Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

Beginning in 1898, Sheriff Samuel Capen held the office for 41 years, and prior to that was deputy sheriff for 21 years. He also served as the Canton Fire Chief and was a Canton police officer.

Sheriff Charles Hedges served from 1961 until 1975 after an illustrious military career. President Lydon Johnson named Hedges to a commission to help fight the nation's burgeoning crime problem in the 1960s.

After serving on the Quincy City Council and in the Massachusetts House, Sheriff Clifford H. Marshall was elected in to take over the reins in Norfolk County in 1975. Marshall was nationally known as a progressive innovator, initiating the electronic incarceration house arrest program to alleviate jail crowding. The sheriff started the first sexual assault until in Norfolk County and created the Braintree Alternative Center (forerunner to the current Dedham Alternative Center) where community service and work release programs were held.

  • 1999 - Present Michael G. Bellotti
  • 1996 - 1999 John H. Flood
  • 1975 - 1996 Clifford H. Marshall
  • 1961 - 1975 Charles Hedges
  • 1958 - 1961 Peter M. McCormack
  • 1939 - 1958 Samuel Wragg
  • 1898 - 1939 Samuel Capen
  • 1885 - 1898 Augustus B. Endicott
  • 1878 - 1885 Rufus Corbin Wood
  • 1857 - 1878 John W. Thomas
  • 1853 - 1857 Thomas Adams
  • 1852 - 1853 John W. Thomas
  • 1848 - 1852 Thomas Adams
  • 1843 - 1848 Jerauld N. E. Mann
  • 1834 - 1843 John Baker, II
  • 1812 - 1834 Elijah Crane
  • 1811 - 1812 William Brewer
  • 1810 - 1811 Elijah Crane
  • 1798 - 1810 Benjamin Clark Cutler
  • 1794 - 1798 Atherton Thayer
  • 1793 - 1794 Ebeneezer Thayer

TRIAD NEWSLETTER
SPRING 2015

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