SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – State Attorney General Andrea Campbell was in Springfield Friday for a tour of one of the Hampden County Sheriff Department’s most successful and renowned programs.
The nationally renowned program is an All-Inclusive Support Services (AISS) of the sheriff’s department that has helped ex-offenders re-enter society at a highly successful rate since 1996. The state’s highest leader in law enforcement came to see the program that she had heard so much about.
The program was the first of its kind in the country and continues to lead the way with more than 32,000 participants in the decades since. Now they serve more than 2,000 ex-offenders every year and 70 percent of them are voluntary without parole or probation stipulations. They provide services in every facet of re-entering society and take care of needs for the rest of a member’s life.
For a program so-hyped in the law enforcement community Attorney General Andrea Campbell told 22News it lived up, “The sheriff had been talking about it. Obviously, in the AG’s office, we have a public safety role to play but we also want to be in the business of breaking cycles of violence, criminalization, and poverty, and this program is doing that every single day.”
“You shouldn’t have to go to jail to get this kind of help, so I opened the center to anyone who needs it,” said Sheriff Cocchi. “We truly appreciate AG Campbell visiting to spend time meeting with our staff and clients, and we appreciate her support for our mission.”
After the tour of the facility, the AG sat down with Sheriff Nick Cocchi, members of the state legislature, and a number of long-time participants in the AISS program. They shared their stories of how the program helped them get back on their feet after incarceration and what has kept them coming back, even with their lives re-assembled for more than a decade.