The Hampden County Sheriff's Office's Western Massachusetts Recovery and Wellness Center (WMRWC) earned a rare 100% score during a comprehensive audit by the American Correctional Association, making it one of the highest scoring facilities in the nation.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the staff at the Western Massachusetts Recovery and Wellness Center for their hard work, attention to detail and dedication to helping the people battling substance use disorder who are in our care and custody,” said Sheriff Nick Cocchi. “Earning this recognition is a testament to the staff who punch in every day and put their heart into helping these individuals return to the community with the supports necessary to achieve and sustain long-term recovery.”
Judged on a full review of 32 mandatory and 208 non-mandatory standards, the auditors from the Washington-based nonprofit determined the facility and its minimum security program had achieved or exceeded all benchmarks aimed at maintaining a safe and humane correctional facility. Earning a perfect score makes the Wellness and Recovery Center a model institution nationally, as the American Correctional Association uses performance-based standards to evaluate correctional policies, inmate and staff safety, and programming designed to return offenders to the community better than when they first arrived.
ACA Auditor Chairperson Michael Radon was so impressed with WMRWC that he recommended its staff present a workshop about the facility at the next ACA conference.
“In 30 years, I have not ever recommended a facility do something at ACA,” Radon said.
“The facility is outstanding. It has a sense of quality of life. You can just feel it when you walk in here, this is a treatment program in a correctional environment,” Radon said. “I can tell you, across the country we get to do these (audits) pretty frequently, and there are people that couldn’t imagine what you do here.”
Auditors called the condition of the facility “immaculate,” noting that its stellar upkeep shows that staff as well as residents pay close attention to housekeeping and other details.
The WMRWC was developed in 1985 as a collaboration between then Governor Michael Dukakis and the sheriffs of Hampden, Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Worcester counties. The original mission of this regional facility was to serve the needs of men and women convicted of their third or subsequent drunk driving charges.
As the needs of public safety changed, and most recently the Opioid Epidemic took hold, the facility evolved, broadening its therapeutic focus and services. The co-ed, minimum security, community-based, residential treatment facility is designed to provide for the custody, care and treatment of substance users from the five western counties of the Commonwealth.
The program at the WMRWC is designed to provide education and treatment that support all pathways to recovery. The approach is guided by evidence-based treatment that addresses the needs of the client. The program’s goals are to assist in reducing recidivism, enhancing public safety, promoting sustained community reentry and empowering individual wellness.