Middlesex County Inmates Spruce Up Somerville [PHOTOS]
The inmates, who wear orange correctional facility suits, have worked at the police station, City Hall and the Department of Public Works, and they'll be conducting more work in upcoming months.
If the Somerville Police Station is looking brighter and smelling rosier, it's not because you just weaseled your way out of a speeding ticket. It's because the station is brighter and rosier.
Well, not rosier … more like the smell of environmentally friendly cleaning product.
Over the past month, the station has received a proper scrubbing, a fresh coat of paint, a good tidying up and some much needed maintenance and repairs, all thanks to a somewhat unlikely group of workers.
Inmates from the Middlesex House of Correction, in Billerica, have conducted hours of work at the police station. They've also done similar work at Somerville City Hall and at the Department of Public Works.
More than $100,000 worth of work
According to Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, the inmates have conducted about $52,500 worth of work in Somerville this year alone. Last year they conducted $60,000 worth of work in the city.
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said, "Actually, the value is greater than that. You have to add a couple of zeros to that if you put this out to bid."
Koutoujian, Curtatone, Somerville Police Chief Thomas Pasquarello and members of the Somerville Police Department and the Middlesex County Sheriff's office met at the police station Thursday afternoon to inspect the work.
Pasquarello gave a tour of the station, pointing to projects the inmates have finished. They've tackled a mold problem in the ceiling, they've cleaned up the central lobby and will soon help refurbish a meeting room, and they've painted a ton: the traffic office, the lock-up areas, the gym, the locker rooms, floors, even the thin blue line symbol on the outside of the building that represents police work.
More projects on the horizon
It's part of the Middlesex County Sheriff's Community Work Program, where inmates conduct work at public buildings in the county.
"Somerville has been very aggressive in taking part in this work," Koutoujian said, saying no other city in the county has participated as much as Somerville.
In addition to the Community Work Program, the sheriff's office is bringing its custodial program to the Somerville Police Station. That program, run by Gary Perria of The Durkin Company, a janitorial company in Billerica, teaches and certifies inmates in being custodians. They'll be cleaning the station this weekend.
"This is the first time they're coming out of the institution," said Koutoujian.
The Community Work Program is for non-violent offenders who have excellent disciplinary records and have earned the right to participate in the program, the sheriff said. Most of them are getting close to their release dates.
"As they approach their release date it's good for them to be in that work-a-day rhythm," Koutoujian said.
Danny Healy is one of the inmates who's worked in Somerville. "Lobby to gymnasium … we did it all," he said. Healy did not want to say why he was in prison, but said it was for something minor.
He said he enjoys the program. "It keeps us out of the [correctional facility] building. It keeps us busy. It makes our sentences go a lot faster," he said. "This is a good group of guys."