BILLERICA, MA — 18 inmates at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction spent the past several months as participants in a number of educational and vocational programs offered by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO). On November 15, they celebrated their achievement in a graduation ceremony attended by their families, jail administrators, a reality TV show winner and a former presidential appointee.
Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian presided over the graduation ceremony which featured 20 diploma conferrals for 18 individuals. Five inmates earned their high school equivalency, six graduated from the MSO Culinary Arts program and another nine men graduated from the Custodial Training program.
“Steady employment is a critical anchor in a successful reentry plan,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “That is why we focus our programming on providing marketable skills, and work proactively with leaders in industries that are looking to hire. By gaining a vocational certificate or high school equivalency degree, these men have used their time with us to create better opportunities for themselves and their families.”
Graduates heard from two speakers on the value of education and its role in reentry. The first was Michael Botticelli, Executive Director of Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction and the former Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) under President Barack Obama.
“Today’s graduation exemplifies that people deserve a second chance and when provided access to the necessary and critical support and resources, they can make significant, positive changes in their lives,” said Director Botticelli.
The second commencement speaker was Chef Mike Fucci, a Watertown-based culinary artist and former winner of the competitive cooking show Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network. Chef Mike spoke on the importance of perseverance and the opportunities available in the culinary arts.
“It was an honor and pleasure to speak to these men who are going in the right direction to turn their life around and have found an interest in culinary arts,” said Chef Mike. “I wish them all the best in their journey to the culinary world. I am looking forward to working with the Sheriff’s Office in the future.”
The MSO Culinary Arts course is a 360 hour training program on sanitation, equipment, food preparation and basic baking skills. Participants earn a certificate from Shawsheen Regional Technical High School and 12 credits at Middlesex Community College to jumpstart their culinary education. Likewise, the Custodial Training program is a two month course that familiarizes each student with the handling, care and dispensing of cleaning materials as well as OSHA standards for the industry. Graduates earn a Green Guard certification through the Billerica-based Durkin Company and maintenance certifications through Minuteman International.
For more information on the programs offered at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, please visit https://www.middlesexsheriff.org/inmate-programming.
(NOTE: The above press release is from Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.)
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