• Jail program hopes to break cycle of incarceration

    By: Jason Solowski

    Updated:

    It’s the one-year anniversary of the PACT unit inside the Middlesex Jail and House of Corrections, a groundbreaking program that’s focused on helping young adults get their lives back on track by giving them the tools to break the cycle of incarceration.

    This is Raphael Parkinson’s first time in jail.  Like the other inmates in here, he volunteered to be in the unit.  

    "You can't always think about yourself, you have to think about if you do this action how will it affect other people around you" said Parkinson.

    Alex Frank is from Vera, a nonprofit dedicated to justice reform that helped develop the program.  

    Frank says young adults are admitted to prisons and jails at far higher rates than any other age group. Everyone in here is between the ages of 18 and 24.  

    "The whole point of a place like PACT is that all young people can get what they need to be successful" Frank said.

    PACT stands for People Achieving Change Together, a name chosen by the inmates.   In here, the inmates have jobs and are taught life skills like budgeting.

    It's an atmosphere that fosters community and building relationships not just between inmates, but also with the correction officers.

    "We had to reimagine how we were going to address the needs of this population because what we were doing was not working" said Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.

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    Koutoujian created this program so young adults in trouble could get their lives back on track.

    "You can see the break through, you can see it in their eyes that they can see the hope that they now have when they leave our facility" he said.

    Parkinson is trying to break the cycle of incarceration in his own family.  His father is also an inmate inside this jail. He’s taking college course inside the jail and plans to apply those credits to Mass Bay Community College in Framingham after he’s released.

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