More than 100 representatives from government, community-based service providers, law enforcement, policymakers, and other areas came together to explore best practices in creating successful pathways for emerging adults involved with the justice system. Hampden County Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi and Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins participated in a panel discussion during the event on November 2 in Norwood, MA.
The Massachusetts Emerging Adult Summit was hosted by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and centered on their reentry initiative of reducing recidivism amongst the 18-25 age population.
Sheriff Cocchi and Sheriff Tompkins’ panel examined the importance of innovations in corrections. The panel was moderated by Scott Semple, the retired Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Correction. Other panelists included Carol Mici, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, and Robert Kinscherff, the Executive Director of the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at MGH.
Sheriff Tompkins talked about the P.E.A.C.E Unit, which stands for Positive Energy that Always Creates Elevation. This program at the Suffolk County Jail is a specialized unit designed for young men ages 18- to 25-year-old. The program places the men in spaces outside the general population. Participants take part in targeted programing and get paired with older incarcerated individuals who act as mentors.
“We want these men to work together and learn from one another. It’s helped reduce fights, and it’s become so popular we now have a waitlist,” Sheriff Tompkins said. “Everyone is actively engaged because it’s truly making a difference.”
Similar to Suffolk’s program, Sheriff Cocchi spoke about Hampden’s program, M.A.G.I.C, which stands for Meaningful Accomplishments Gain Increased Character. To date, over 500 men have gone through the program.
“Starting this program was a no brainer and we are thrilled to offer it to help individuals learn and grow, Sheriff Nick Cocchi said. “Our job is not to pass judgement, but to help correct their behavior and return them back to the community better than they were before.”
Other panel discussions included establishing law enforcement partnerships, the role of specialty courts, and solutions created by cross-sector collaborations.