Updated: Friday, 06 Nov 2009, 8:13 AM EST
Published : Wednesday, 04 Nov 2009, 12:10 PM EST
LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) - It's your money -- and your safety -- and 22News is watching it.
The economic recession coupled with lower than expected tax collections have forced Governor Deval Patrick to make massive cuts to the state budget.
In the last 18 months, the budget for Hampden County Correctional Center was cut by $7.6 million, or 10.2 percent, and more cuts are on the horizon.
"I will have to continue to reduce the services that we are providing and to me it is a threat to public safety," Sheriff Michael Ashe said.
He told 22News he cut 80 jobs, forced his staff to take 13 furlough days, and a job freeze in place. He has also been forced to release inmates early, to spare the expensive cost of housing criminals. These people enter through a program called day reporting and are monitored by electronic bracelets.
Sheriff Ashe said services to help rehabilitate inmates from committing crimes again have also been reduced significantly because of budget cuts.
Kester Green just finished serving time. He told 22News those education programs taught him how to stay out of trouble.