(WWLP) — Our new normal of social distancing is forcing our local leaders to find new ways to govern.
Thursday afternoon, Senator Ed Markey and Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi held a public discussion via live stream. They gave details on how the criminal justice system is adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Markey and Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi discussed the programs implemented to help combat the challenges of COVID-19.
A focal point of the conversation was on the recovery home created by the Hampden County Sherrif’s Departments for frontline workers diagnosed with the virus.
The 84-room home has been housing essential workers such as nurses and firefighters.
Sheriff Cocchi said two people recently recovered and have been released, and are expecting more people to come in tonight.
He said that the rooms are also open to the family of the essential worker if they have been infected.
“It’s really about taking people to give them a place to recover,” said Sheriff Cocchi. “Not at home where they can infect their loved ones, and come here, let us take care of you, you take care of so many others, let us nurse you back to health, recover, and then get back on the front-line.”
Sheriff Cocchi said he wants other states to know there is a huge responsibility in caring for the inmates in its facility. He reports that there are still zero positive cases of COVID-19 amongst the 940 inmates.
Cocchi says that the country cannot forget that the opioid crisis is still an issue and that it is still dangerous for released inmates. He says a plan needs to be implemented.
“Anybody who is incarcerated the key to their success is a release plan, a discharge plan that engages them into support agencies,” said Sheriff Cocchi. “Plugging them into a home environment, a home plan, an employment opportunity…when you don’t have a plan, we have set those men and women up for extreme failure.”
Senator Markey said he hopes the Hampden Country Sheriff’s department’s COVID-19 response programs could be used as a national model to other facilities in the United States.
You can find out what changes the sheriff’s department has made in response to COVID-19 here.