As Massachusetts lawmakers await a final report on reforming the state’s criminal justice system, one newly installed sheriff wants pre-trial defendants to enter recovery programs.
Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi said there are twice as many defendants in the jails awaiting trial as there are serving time. Rather than being idle, Cocchi said his facility is putting those defendants into programs, such as anger management and substance abuse treatment. But he said sheriffs could do much more with some legislative changes.
“Like stepping down a very low-bail offender to a minimum security, and getting them ready to re-enter into a community, whether they got sentenced or not. We know that they would be a very low risk,” said Cocchi.
And he said offenders would already start gaining skills that could help prevent them from returning to prison.
The Council of State Governments has said recidivism drives much of the criminal justice system, but there’s no state funding designated for programs to address the problem.