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Middlesex Sheriff Inaugurated; Details Improvement Plans

Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian was inaugurated at Bentley University in Waltham on Feb. 13.

Before he detailed plans to improve his agency, Peter J. Koutoujian was sworn into his first elected term as Middlesex County Sheriff on Wednesday, Feb. 13. 

In front of a large audience of family, colleagues and friends, Koutoujian, a life-long Waltham resident and former state representative for the city, took the oath of office during a 4 p.m. ceremony at the LaCava Center at Bentley University.

Koutoujian was elected to the post in November 2012 to fill the remaining four years of a six-year term. Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Koutoujian in late 2010 after former sheriff James DiPaola took his own life. 

Koutoujian, in a 25-minute speech, said he plans to boost correction officer wellness and hire more academy-trained officers. He said he also wants to give more opportunities for officers to move up through the ranks.

Also, Koutoujian said he wants to improve and provide more programs to help prisoners transition back into civilian life.

“We need to give them the tools to leave us better than the shape they were [in] when they arrived,” Koutoujian said. “In the 21st century, we need to offer the types of programming to meet the needs of the workforce.”

Better inmate transition, Koutoujian said, would improve public safety and save taxpayer money.

Established in 1690, Koutoujian’s office oversees the Middlesex County House of Corrections in Billerica and Middlesex Jail in Cambridge. Koutoujian, however, said he plans to move the remaining prisoners out of the Cambridge facility and to the Billerica building. According to the Boston Globe, the Cambridge jail is overcrowded and in bad shape.

Koutoujian, an attorney by trade, was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1996, according to his biography on the sheriff’s website. He previously served as a Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney.

“I love this job and I could not be more proud to stand with the men and women of the Middlesex sheriff’s office,” Koutoujian said.

Isabella Jancourtz February 15, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Questions for Sheriff Koutoujian: how many people in your custody are in jail for non-violent, victimless crimes? What are the costs to society of incarcerating so many people who pose no threat to anyone? Are you going to spend a few days and nights behind bars yourself, so you can get a sense of the impact on a person of the system you are in charge of? Have you ever had a legislator or a judge volunteer for this learning opportunity? America incarcerates more people per capita than any other country on the planet. One out of every 100 adults in our country are behind bars right now. Is this Institutionalized injustice on a grand and unprecedented scale? Or is it just a great business and employment opportunity?
Isabella Jancourtz February 20, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Never did hear from Sheriff Koutoujian. Guess he doe not read Patch. I shall send him an e-mail and report back on a response, if any. In the meantime, tune in to WBUR's "On Point" with a fine program today on America's prisons in the first hour, repeated tonight 90.9FM at 7pm I believe and also available online at WBUR.org. And check out LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of people who have worked in law enforcement, and elsewhere in the criminal justice system, and who now believe that we must end the War on Drugs, which has resulted in mass incarceration of our fellow Americans. In my 35 years as a family lawyer, I have seen first hand the devastation experienced by the families of the men and women who end up behind bars. It seems to me that the only good reason to take anyone's freedom away is to protect the public from harm. A "debt to society" would be far better paid in cash for most non-violent crimes, in my view. For example,a thief would get to pay 3 times the amount stolen, plus court costs. A vandal gets to pay 3 times the cost of repairing the damage done etc. If the state took 1/3 of the judgment, this would ultimately pretty much cover the expense of the entire criminal justice system, and the victim, with 2/3 of the judgment, would be doubly compensated for his or her loss, even if it took a wage assignment or other long term installment payment. Wouldn't we all be a lot better off than we are now?

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