Police Aim At Reducing Jail Numbers Through National Pilot Program

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and the leaders of two dozen municipal law enforcement agencies announced recipient of national pilot program (Credit Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio1030/Twitter)

ARLINGTON, MA (WBZ-AM)  -- Middlesex County has been named one of three national pilot sites for a program aimed at reducing the prison population. The program, called the 'data driven justice project seeks to get some low level offenders out of jail and into treatment.

“We can’t incarcerate our way out of this problem,” Middlesex Sherriff Peter Koutoujian said at a press conference on Tuesday announcing the program.

Koutoujian says the goal of the pilot program is to reduce repeat arrests and break the cycle of incarceration and emergency room visits for people who are suffering from mental health or addiction issues.

Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan says they'll do that by linking information gathered by police, jails and hospitals to figure out who is overlapping in the system and get them the help they need.

“By identifying the super-utilizers with data, we can find the best way to help these people and stop the never-ending cycle of expending public safety resources and  emergency medical resources.”

The Data Driven Justice Project started in the Summer of 2016 during President Obama’s Administration with a goal of using data to break the cycle of incarceration for low-level offenders suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office together with 27 police departments in the region have signed on to the initiative.

Since January 2017, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has been working with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and National Association of Counties to identify resources to support local efforts.

WBZ NewsRadio1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports.

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