7 Tips For A Safe New Year’s Eve

  1. Designate A Driver

If a group of you are going out for the evening, consider a designated driver, preferably before your plans begin. If you have a friend that prefers not to drink, then that person would be the perfect choice.  Consider a gift or repaying the favor on another night for the person who volunteers to get everyone home safely.Happy-New-Year-2016

  1. Consider Taking Public Transportation

If you don’t have to drive, then don’t. There will be a lot of people on the road (some will be under the influence) so; public transportation may be a better and safer choice.

Here is a link to the MBTA schedule for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day: http://www.mbta.com/events/

  1. Have Those Important Phone Numbers Ready

You should always have at least two emergency contact phone numbers with you at all times, preferably a close friend or relative.  In case your cell phone dies, be sure to have these numbers in your wallet or purse.  If you’re anything like me, you fully rely on your phone for people’s numbers and contact information.

  1. Make Sure That Your Cell Phone Is Fully Charged

There’s nothing worse than needing your cell phone in an emergency and finding that the battery is dead.

  1. Download Uber, Lyft Or Some Other Ride App To Your Phone

Set the application up ahead of time with your credit card information and whatever else is needed.  The time to set these apps up is not at the moment you actually need them.

  1. Find A Buddy Or Buddies

Travel in groups and stay alert.  Watch each other’s backs.

  1. Drink Responsibly

If you drink alcohol, pay attention to how much you and others around you are consuming.  Drinking too much alcohol can be fatal.

Now get out there and enjoy yourself, but have a happy and safe New Year!

DOC Employees bring Christmas Cheer to the Mass Hospital School

It’s become an annual tradition for DOC employees to visit the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton in December during the holiday season.  This year was no exception.  Team DOC brought bunches of Christmas cheer and spent the day with the wonderful staff and children there.  The children at the Massachusetts Hospital School face daily challenges that most of us could never fathom, but their spirit never waivers.  The mission of The Massachusetts Hospital School (MHS) is to provide medical, rehabilitative, educational, recreational, habilitative, transitional, and complementary alternative medical services to children and young adults with multiple disabilities, assisting them to achieve their optimal level of independence in all aspects of life.  We’d like to acknowledge the wonderful employees of the DOC who give of themselves time and again to volunteer at the Mass Hospital School and other venues throughout the Commonwealth.  Keep up the great work, you are truly ambassadors for our agency.

MASAC Flu Clinic

By Alden Cowen

Recently, the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center hosted a flu clinic in the Training Room. In the past this event was held at Warren Hall, however with the recent maintenance issues, this location was not available for this year’s Bridgewater Complex flu clinic. Masac’s Health Services Administrator Laura Vasconcellos still wanted to be able to provide a complex wide flu clinic therefor she submitted a request to Superintendent Allison Hallett to have it hosted at this facility.  Once she received approval from Superintendent Hallett, Laura contacted Rite Aid, who graciously donated the needed supplies. Thanks to the efforts of Laura, over 40 staff from throughout the Bridgewater Complex received their flu shots.

Flu shots ect october 2015 260

SMCC Partnership Appreciation Event

By Stacey Butkowski

On November 18, 2015, South Middlesex Correctional Center hosted its second annual Partnership Appreciation Event.  The event  underscores the importance of the partnership between SMCC and local businesses in promoting the departmental vision of reducing recidivism by preparing inmates for their release from custody.  The partnership offers valuable incentives to employers as well.

The event centered on the recognition of employers who currently employ our inmates.  Supervisors from the  Metro West Regional Transit Authority, who assist with transportation, were also invited.   The guest speakers included both inmates currently participating in the program and an inmate who not only successfully completed the program but retained her employment since her release and has been promoted to a management position within the company.  As the work release program continues to grow, these partnerships will be of the utmost importance to the success of the program.

In striving to achieve the departmental mission of successful re-entry into the community, SMCC has significantly expanded the number of employers through which we work to find gainful employment for our pre-release inmate population.  These local businesses are paramount to the success of the work release program at SMCC and the Partnership Appreciation Event is our chance to say, “thank you,” to those businesses.  Without their participation and support of the work release program, our success would not be possible.

It takes a village

By Shawn Zoldak

Northeastern Correctional Centers Deputy Superintendent Colette Santa along with Culinary Art Instructor Ed Jacobs, Sgt. Shawn Zoldak and Industrial Instructor John Larson delivered a Gingerbread Village created by Chef Jacobs and his culinary arts students, to Chelsea Gordon, Volunteer Manager, at The Home for Little Wanderers in Roslindale. The group also delivered numerous toys, all of which were donated during a toy drive, by staff and the public attending culinary arts. The village was placed at the entrance to the building, Thrift shop of Boston. The thrift shop is managed by Chris Roth and all proceeds directly benefit the children’s programs. Also accepting the donations was Rick Houpt, director of Development, who explained that the program also has a culinary component that the children attend and enjoy tremendously.

gingerbread village

The Home for Little Wanderers provides a seamless continuum of vital programs and services for every stage of child and family development. For more than 200 years, we’ve earned a reputation for doing whatever it takes to strengthen vulnerable families and keep children safe in their own communities, even when they don’t have family support.

home for lil

Serving children and youth from birth to 22, The Home makes a positive impact on over 7,000 lives each year through a network of services including behavioral health, therapeutic residential and special education, adoption and foster care. In addition, a number of innovative programs provide specialized assistance to youth transitioning to adulthood from state systems of care.

We continuously measure the impact of our work to develop and enhance our programs. We never give up on children. And we don’t let children give up on themselves. By advocating on behalf of each and every one of them, we strengthen our families, our communities and our Commonwealth


Left to Right: Three volunteers, Deputy Colette Santa, Culinary Instructor Ed Jacobs, Home for Little Wanderers Volunteer Manager Chelsea Gordon, Thrift Shop manager Chris Roth.



One ‘S.T.E.P.’ closer to Eliminating Seclusion and Restraint at BSH

By James Rioux

The reduction of patient seclusion and restraint is a national safety goal in psychiatric facilities, both private and public, including at Bridgewater State Hospital (BSH).  Over the past year and one half, BSH embarked on a program of reducing seclusion and restraint in compliance with legal mandates through policy changes in a collaboration between security and clinical staff and external stakeholders to effect this goal by: training in trauma and de-escalation techniques; increasing our crisis coverage; developing individualized de-escalation plans for each patient; and the re-purposing of areas to create therapeutic options on each unit called Quiet Rooms equipped with de-escalation items. One particular BSH program has made tremendous progress in meeting this national safety goal.  The S.T.E.P. (Specialized Treatment and Education Program) has recently published promising results in increasing patient participation in unit and off unit groups, improving patient medication compliance, and ultimately decreasing episodes of patient seclusion and restraint.

S.T.E.P. was originally developed in September 2014 as a Joint Commission initiative to address an identified treatment gap for patients transferring from the maximum and minimum units.  It was discovered through this process that the majority of patients transitioning from maximum to minimum units were unable to effectively manage the routine of living in a dorm setting, attending multiple unit treatment groups, and completing all activities of daily living independently.   S.T.E.P. was created to assist these patients with their transition to less secure units and to less secure settings e.g. Department of Mental Health hospitals, traditional penal settings, and traditional minimum units.

Through a highly individualized and graduated four step incentive program many of the patients who have historically been managed in the maximum units of the hospital are now adjusting to the expectations of the unit team.  As S.T.E.P. patients graduate from one step to the next their incentives increase.  Newly enrolled Step 1 patients who are beginning to learn about the expectations of living in a minimum unit may earn additional outdoor time for demonstrating behavioral control while patients who have graduated to Step 2 will have an opportunity to attend off unit groups, spend more time in the Commons building where leisure and recreational activities are offered, and will spend less time restricted to their unit.  As patients progress through the steps, their expectations increase.  For instance, Step 3 patients will be expected to transition from a single room to a dorm setting, which is typically the most challenging obstacle to overcome and a decision that requires much clinical discussion.   Finally, Step 4 has the highest expectations for patients and resembles a traditional minimum unit experience.  A unique component of Step 4 is the expectation that the patients will become mentors to the newly enrolled S.T.E.P. patients.

According to Dr. James Schrage, Psychologist and Unit Director, the success of the S.T.E.P. program is attributed to the specialty groups offered by a multidisciplinary team of activity therapists, clinicians, and psychologists.  As the patient progresses through the steps more treatment intensive groups are added.  Life Skills, Mindfulness, Competency Restoration, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are just a few of the groups offered to patients that help them to progress through the program. Out of the fourteen patients who have participated in the program to date, seven have been successful in transferring to a less secure setting and only one patient has been returned to a higher security setting. Of the six patients who remain in the program, all have been compliant with their prescribed medication and are engaged in treatment.   Lastly, there has been a 79% reduction in the use of seclusion and restraint in patients enrolled in the program.

The BSH community congratulates Dr. Schrage and his colleagues, for helping patients obtain the skills they need to effectively transition to minimum settings, and for bringing BSH one ‘S.T.E.P.’ closer to meeting our national safety goal.  Dr. Schrage is a Beyond Excellence Award recipient for 2015.

Mental Health Holds

Strategic Goal: Reentry

By David Newmark, CPO A/B

The DOC’s strategic goal #2 is to “Effectively prepare offenders for transition into communities to reduce crime and victimization, reduce recidivism, and promote rehabilitation and reentry.”  On August 26th at MCI-Norfolk, the DOC delivered on this goal with a Reentry Seminar on Financial Literacy.  The Seminar was held for inmates in the CSD Auditorium, and was attended by community experts in the field of Finance as well as over 200 MCI-Norfolk inmates.

Reentry Seminars are held quarterly for inmates, but this one was different.  For this Seminar, inmates were given a survey to determine what they most wanted to hear about regarding reentry.  The #1 topic chosen was Financial Literacy.  CPO Deanna Acquafresca and Director of Treatment Bruce Pires staged the event, which was seen by many attendees as a resounding success.

First among the presenters were Alan Benjamin and Nicholas Nolan from Santander Bank.  They discussed financial issues that many inmates were not familiar with, such as building up a credit history, retirement and investment tips, notary services, and even financing options for those wishing to start their own business.  Did you know that a bank can issue an ID?  Well, it’s true according to the Santander reps.  There were many invaluable tips given to inmates that are coming up on release in regard to assuring their financial security.

Reentry Seminar

Presenters (Left to Right): Nicholas Nolan- Santander Bank, Cletus Thomas- ACCC, Jonathan Hughes- MEFA, Melissa Crehan- MA DOR, and Alan Benjamin- Santander Bank

Other presenters were Jonathan Hughes of the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, who gave inmates several tips on how to go about securing financing for college, and Melissa Crehan from Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Division who lent her expertise on that issue.  There was a question and answer session at the end, where it was apparent that the inmates were engaged in what was being said by the huge line of men asking questions of the presenters.

At the end of the day, both staff and inmates in attendance were enlightened on several issues pertaining to financial literacy.  Much thanks to the staff at MCI-Norfolk who organized this event.  No matter who we are, inmates and staff alike can always learn new things at seminars such as this one.  This writer definitely learned a lot.

DOC Internships

Did you know the Massachusetts Department of Corrections has Internship opportunities within various Institutions and Divisions located throughout the Commonwealth?

We are currently accepting applications for the Spring 2016 Semester. The deadline ends December 30th, so get your applications in now!

Visit our website below where you will find all detailed summaries of internship tracks, directions, and application information.

You must be actively enrolled in a accredited College or University to participate. If you have any questions, please call Lori Costa – Recruitment & Outreach Specialist at 508-850-7783.



The DOC Internship Program hosted 16 Students this past Fall from various schools including Stonehill College, Anna Maria, FSU, UMass, BU, Lasell, Roger Williams, Mt. Wachusett CC, Bay State CC, Cape Cod CC, Penn Foster College, just to name a few. Pictured here are students attending their first Orientation, along with DOC Recruiter Lori Costa from the Office of Diversity.