Sheriff Bellotti has made inmate re-entry into society one of his chief priorities. His Repeat Offender Re-entry Initiative has been hailed as "a model for the entire state" by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The initiative identifies repeat offenders incarcerated at the jail. During monthly meetings, these offenders meet with a variety of outside agency representatives. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Massachusetts Attorney General's Office and Norfolk District Attorney's Office warn them that much harsher penalties await them if they re-offend. The program emphasizes personal accountability on the part of the inmate. For instance, Level 2 and 3 sex offenders are transported directly to their parole or probation officers and to their local police department so that they can register their residence as required by law. The program also links the inmates with numerous social service agencies such as North Cottage Treatment Center, South MIddlesex Opportunity Council, the state Department of Mental Health and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Council to help them become and remain productive, law-abiding citizens upon their release from jail.
"We have great specific re-entry programs, and re-entry in general is one of our guiding philosophies at the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office," Sheriff Bellotti said. "The average period of incarceration here is roughly three months. There is no doubt that virtually all our inmates will be re-entering society shortly. We feel a responsibility to try to keep these inmates from coming back to jail. In a very real sense, our re-entry program begins for all inmates on the first day they arrive here. At that time, our Classification Department assesses the problems and characteristics of each inmate. We house those inmates with other inmates with similar problems. Then we try to address those problems through treatement and education in areas such as anger management, substance abuse and domestic violence.
"It's a win-win situation because law-abiding citizens are able to enjoy safer neighborhoods, and the offenders are able to rebound from bad decisions in their past and get their lives back on track," Sheriff Bellotti said.