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Sheriff Spotlight: Reinventing Re-Entry Services at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office

When Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux assumed Office in January 2023, he had a vision to change the reentry unit. He recognized the potential for improvement and began to enhance the support and services provided to incarcerated individuals upon release.


Sheriff Heroux and Chief of Inmate Services Jodi Hockert-Lotz.

The restructuring resulted in the creation of an entirely new department with a new Chief of Inmate Services. This department led by Jodi Hockert-Lotz, the newly appointed Chief of Services, was established to oversee medical care, food services, programming, education, post-release services, and reentry initiatives. Dedicated positions were also created exclusively for post-release services.


“Healthcare is everything people commonly think of but also includes mental health and drug treatment. Lastly, getting a job requires an education or skills training.”

Sheriff Heroux and reentry unit staff visits the First Step Inn in Fall River to learn about their facilities and discuss the importance of finding returning citizens housing upon release.

The Sheriff created coordinator roles focused on specific aspects of post release including housing, healthcare, employment, and other support services. Each coordinator leads a team of post-release workers who are experts in their respective fields, providing tailored support to incarcerated individuals transitioning back into society.



“The Sheriff’s vision has inspired the staff to be creative with finding solutions to improve upon what we have in place and to seek new opportunities that will contribute to a rehabilitative environment,” said Hockert-Lotz.


: An incarcerated individual at the BCSO participates in the welding vocational program. This individual is working on a new suicide resistant beds that will be used in the housing units.

Beyond creating more designated staffing in this area, the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) also expanded programming and education opportunities for incarcerated individuals. The BCSO launched a welding program for incarcerated individuals where participants learn the skills necessary to obtain certifications. Some participants where even able to assist in the creation of new suicide resistant bunk beds.


Another new program is a partnership with MassMEP, a course dedicated to instructing individuals on various manufacturing jobs and placing them with employers prior to their release. Individuals participating in the CDL program now have access to hands-on learning opportunities in the community, expanding upon what was previously just a simulation experience.


“I am honored to lead this unit and be part of this transformation,” said Hockert-Lotz. “These changes will not only benefit incarcerated individuals by providing a platform for personal growth and skill acquisition but also contribute to a safer environment for both staff and those incarcerated.”


With an entire unit dedicated to reentry services, incarcerated individuals now have ample opportunities for personal growth, skill acquisition, and preparation for life back in the community.



 

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