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Local STAR transitions program honored by sheriff's association

Eagle-Tribune - 11/28/2023

Nov. 22—LAWRENCE — A county sheriff's department program designed to keep people out of jail and connect them with needed resources has received statewide acclaim.

The Supporting Transitions and Re-entry Program in Lawrence was honored by the Massachusetts Sheriff's Association as "Program of the Year," Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger recently announced.

The STAR Program is a community-based program providing support, supervision, and services to justice-involved individuals. The goal of the program is to keep people out of the justice system by using community partnerships and wrap-around services to provide clinical, educational, and vocational services to help individuals thrive in their communities, Coppinger said.

Opened in April 2022, the STAR program saw over 400 referrals in its first year and assisted 135 participants.

"Nearly 80 percent of these STAR participants joined our program voluntarily, highlighting the dedicated and compassionate staff who go above and beyond to ensure clients have the tools and services they need to be successful," Coppinger said.

"Because of these dedicated individuals, the STAR Program is reducing recidivism while making our communities safer, while also providing a second chance to so many people in need," he added.

The award ceremony was held Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Statehouse and highlighted stories of heroism, dedication, and innovation within the law enforcement and corrections communities.

"So much of our work as corrections and law enforcement professionals happens away from the public and out of the spotlight. I'm happy that we're taking a statewide look at these amazing individuals and their stories of bravery, as they save and change lives," said Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, President of the Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association.

Gov. Maura Healey was the guest speaker at the ceremony, offering words of praise and gratitude for the award recipients.

"The law enforcement and corrections professionals celebrated today go above and beyond each and every day to keep our communities safe and strong. It is a privilege to honor their courage and compassion, and on behalf of Massachusetts, we thank them for their dedicated service to our communities," Healey said.

The Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association supports, promotes, and advocates for each of the 14 Sheriff's Offices in the Commonwealth.

At locations in Lawrence and Lynn, STAR participants receive support services, resource referrals, employment counseling and other help. The program's creators hope streamlining these services in one spot will increase the number of people who take advantage of them.

Each participant is assigned a "STAR Navigator" who evaluates his or her strengths, passions and interests, then creates 30-day step plans.

The options on which to build those plans include anger management and parenting classes, virtual and community vocational training and high school diploma testing, and individual instruction. The courts, corrections and probation offices, and other community organizations make the referrals.

Program partners include Northern Essex Community College, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School, Lawrence Training School and Lahey Behavioral Health, among others.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter/X @EagleTribJill.


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