BILLERICA, Mass. – Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian recently welcomed State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D – Acton) and Boston Share Network founder Dorothy “Dot” Werst to discuss a new reentry initiative now underway at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.
Sheriff Koutoujian briefed Senator Eldridge and Ms. Werst on the efforts put in place at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office to assist sentenced individuals leaving custody the opportunity to secure an official Massachusetts ID prior to release. The IDs are necessary for housing, prescription verification, opening bank accounts and accessing other areas vital to everyday life.
Through the Boston Share Network, Ms. Werst has been working to help homeless individuals in the Boston area secure state-issued IDs for several years. She and Sen. Eldridge met with Sheriff Koutoujian to discuss the issue last year.
“Stable housing, employment and access to medical treatment are all significant components of successful reentry,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “All of these are more difficult, if not impossible, to gain and sustain without government-issued ID. Helping the men in our custody obtain this necessary tool prior to release will better position them for success. I want to thank Ms. Werst and Sen. Eldridge for their leadership and collaboration.”
As part of the MSO effort, a staff member has been designated to assist eligible, sentenced individuals without a valid ID, work with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to complete and process paperwork prior to release.
“Seven years ago, I began working with Dot Werst to expand her Boston Share Network State ID program from homeless shelters, to expand it to inmates upon being released from state prison,” said Senator Eldridge. “I’m proud and deeply appreciative of Sheriff Peter Koutoujian for expanding the Prisoner ID program to the Middlesex County House of Correction. This expansion would not have been possible without the persistence and compassion of Dot Werst, and we were pleased to visit the county jail in Billerica, to see the program in action.”