Middlesex DA, Middlesex Sheriff & Bridge Club Of Greater Lowell Announce Partnership To Provide Jobs & Services To Court-Involved Individuals

Below is a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office:

LOWELL, MA — Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and Bob Cox, Executive Director of the Bridge Club in Lowell have announced a new program that will assist court-involved individuals by connecting them with employment and other supportive services. The Bridge Back Initiative is a collaborative program where individuals are screened to identify those who would benefit from employment opportunities, addiction and recovery related support and other community based services as part of the disposition of their underlying criminal case.

“In order to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for incarcerated individuals we have to look at the criminal system as a rehabilitative tool,” said District Attorney Ryan. “In Middlesex County we have been reflecting on our work and focusing on programs that address the underlying causes of criminal behavior. This program does just that. We cannot expect someone to achieve success if we do not give them the tools to navigate things like applying for jobs or applying for housing assistance. It is our hope that The Bridge Back program will offer supportive services that will allow participants to achieve lasting and reformative success.”

“Employment, housing and behavioral health treatment are critical components to successful re-entry and recidivism reduction efforts,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “Each day our incredible staff works to ensure those in our custody receive treatment and programming to address the issues that contributed to their incarceration. They also work to implement release plans that take into account the specific needs of each individual. Initiatives like the Bridge Back program will not only benefit those in our care, but the families and communities those individuals are returning to, as well.”

While the program is still in the beginning stages, the District Attorney’s Office and The Bridge Club of Greater Lowell have already started educating stakeholders, including prosecutors and the defense bar on the availability of the program. Starting in the next few weeks interested participants will be able to fill out a job application through their defense counsel for consideration at Waddington North America or Restaurant Depot who have both agreed to participate in the pilot. If the applicant meets the requirement of the job, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has agreed to allow participants to do virtual job interviews via Zoom within thirty days prior to the individual’s scheduled release date, drastically reducing the waiting period to start employment.

“This partnership of the justice system and the recovery community together offers a unique opportunity for persons looking for a new beginning. The potential for employment and transportation to support that employment are two major factors required in order to establish a sense of normalcy in one’s life. The availability of appropriate clothing for work or interviews will help with self-esteem and the added benefit of recovery coaches to navigate the balance of re-entry into society while dealing with addiction related issues gives these folks a real chance at getting their lives back on track,” added Bob Cox.

The Bridge Club of Greater Lowell will also work with partners to identify the needs of the participant and identify appropriate services including services already offered by The Bridge Club of Greater Lowell including access to recovery coaches and addiction services.

In an effort to build out the supportive services that will part of this program, The Bridge Club of Greater Lowell has applied for grant funding from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development under the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program.

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