WEST BOYLSTON, Mass. - A new intake building at the Worcester County Jail is helping inmates get better access to mental health and substance -use treatment.
Local and state leaders cut a ribbon Wednesday to celebrate the new $26 million Medical, Mental Health & Intake building at the Worcester County Jail & House of Corrections.
“It's really extraordinary. It's where all corrections should be doing this, and we're blessed to have this facility," Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis said.
Evangelidis says inmates come in suffering from mental illness or addiction. The new facility will help inmates get access to mental health councilors along with substance-use and medical treatment right away.
“We are excited about this building. It going to allow us to assess everybody appropriately in an environment they should be assessed and and provide them the services they're going to need, and then get them out to the general population in a position where they can succeed," Evangelidis said. "It’s going to allow the flow of this place to work so much better than this old, antiquated facility we have."
Governor Charlie Baker says it will play a big part in how the state addresses mental health in correctional facilities going forward.
“This project is a big statement. It's not just a building. It's about a way of thinking about service. It's a way of thinking about corrections," Gov. Baker said. "It's a way of thinking about rehabilitation and it's a way of thinking about helping people get back on their feet and get back into society."
Local police departments will also be able to use these holding cells on weekends instead of having to keep more serious offenders at their stations.
Oxford Police Chief Anthony Saad says many departments don’t have the resources to take care of a person they’ve arrested for more than a day. He says the program will save help his department save in overtime costs.
"This is truly a valuable resource, for many,many communities in Central Mass, such as Oxford, having the option of bringing non bailable prisoners to this state of the art facility will surely reduce liability applications upon our communities," Saad said.
The sheriff's office will give inmates treatment and take them to their arraignments. Evangelidis says it will be at no cost to the police departments.