Opinion: Jail programs do not come without cost

May 1, 2022

To the editor:

I’d like to thank Betty Ussach for her continued concern for both the inmates and staff of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office. While it’s nice to be cared about, unfortunately Ms. Ussach doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  

Inmates at the BCSO have a unit dedicated to recovery. They have daily counseling sessions and groups meant to analyze and dissect their behavior and root out the cause of their incarceration. Some inmates choose to “work the program”, while others take it less seriously. Is the end result the fault of the clinical professionals at the jail or the individuals themselves?  

The BCSO provides daily access to academic and vocational programs. Inmates earn “good time” for attending education as well as the knowledge they need to complete their high school equivalency or even to earn their high school diploma. Not only does education provide this opportunity, but they also earn time off their sentence for attendance and participation.  

You would think that a majority of those incarcerated would avail themselves of this service. For those who have their high school diploma or equivalency or cannot earn “good time”, the BCSO provides continuing education in multiple areas. Writing workshops, special topics classes that reflect the issues of the day, CDL prep, and “Inside Out” — a program for college credit in conjunction with UMass Dartmouth. 

This on top of college and career counseling, and other programming. 

It seems based on her editorial that Ms. Ussach is ignorant of, or chooses to ignore, these programs and the many other services the BCSO provides inmates. Obviously these programs do not come without cost. Many believe that the inmate should bear some responsibility to the taxpayers for these services and if they feel differently, may choose not to reoffend. BCSO certainly has the services and incentives available to help them with that decision.  

We are living in a time of individuals passing responsibility for their actions onto others or “circumstances beyond their control.” Ms. Ussach seems to believe that it is more the role of the institution to change bad behavior than it is the individual. She claims there are few programs in place, and wants to “promote… cost saving programs.'' 

This sounds more like funding cuts to the detriment of the people who need the help.  

Perhaps she can tell me which existing program she would like to cut, the vocational, recovery or education program?  

Jail is not a place most people want to be. As an attorney, Ms. Ussach should realize that anyone can sue anyone else for any reason and will. The individual being sued needs to defend against these allegations whether the allegation is legitimate or not which unfortunately costs money. Perhaps in her experience Ms. Ussach has not encountered frivolous lawsuits?

I’m sure Ms. Ussach is well-intentioned, I just wish she knew what she was talking about.

William Villineau,

New Bedford