Victims’ Rights Commemoration: Focus on Domestic Violence

On Thursday, April 7, 2016, Director Sheila Creaton Kelly of the Victim Services Unit (VSU) recently hosted the second annual Victims’ Rights Month Commemoration.   The event was very well attended and is a testament to the DOC’s commitment to protecting the rights of victims and the important work that the VSU does on a daily basis.

Commissioner Carol Higgins O’Brien welcomed the attendees and spoke about the DOC’s zero tolerance policy for domestic violence.  The Commissioner also took the opportunity to ask staff to remember the victims.

The staff at Old Colony Correctional Center (OCCC) in Bridgewater received a special recognition at the event for their work to assist VSU throughout the year.  In addition, OCCC helped to facilitate a victim/offender months ago; this required a great deal of compassion and hard work from many staff.  Superintendent Lisa Mitchell and some of her staff were in attendance to accept the award.

Deputy Commissioner Kathie Chmiel spoke about the importance of having a balance between the deference we show the victims of violent crime and the offender rehabilitation.

Danielle
Danielle Sicard: Keynote Speaker

Assistant Deputy Commissioner Carol Mici recognized the VSU staff for their difficult job and acknowledged the importance of treating each victim as an individual.   Director Kelly echoed the sentiment and remarked that each case the VSU handles is unique and difficult and requires personalization.  Victims are often forced to relive perhaps the most difficult moments of their lives each time an offender is moved or considered for parole.  She read a review from a victim thanking the VSU from the bottom of their heart for taking the time to listen to their concerns.OCCC

The keynote speaker was Danielle Sicard, a survivor of domestic violence.  Ms. Sicard shared her personal experience and how she escaped an emotionally and physically abusive relationship that escalated to an attempt on her life.  Ms. Sicard shared her insight regarding how the violence she endured has permanently impacted her daily life and how it affected her family and relationships.  Ms. Sicard also gave the audience information regarding the myths that surround abusers while educating the attendees about the characteristics often found in abusers.  Her words were riveting and she graciously took time to answer all the attendees’ questions about her ordeal.

The event was truly poignant for all who attended.

A New Dog In Town

Last July “Project Good Dog” began at NCCI Gardner.  It started as a means to help shelter dogs with behavioral issues, become more adoptable. The dogs that enter the program are shelter dogs that have been surrendered by their owners, come from animal control, or were transferred from another shelter.  Kristen English, a Correctional Program Officer C at NCCI Gardner and Project Good Dog coordinator, states the facility can accommodate five dogs at a time and has had a total of 19 dogs that have completed the program since July.

Project Good Dog Collage PNG copy

Dogs are paired and housed with an inmate handler for a 6 – 8 week period during this intensive curriculum. They learn to become house broken, basic obedience, kennel training, socialization, leash training, and a few simple tricks.

The program is organized by the Second Chance Animal Shelter in East Brookfield, Ma. They are a nationally recognized organization that provides innovative programs and services to help animals.

If you would like to adopt a dog or support Project Good Dog please contact:

CPO Kristen English @ NCCI Gardner

Phone: 978-630-6000  x119
Email: kristen.english@massmail.state.ma.us

Or the Second Chance Animal Shelter

Phone: 508-867-5525  Good Dog

Email: info@secondchanceanimals.org

Web: www.secondchanceanimals.org