The Essex County Sheriff's Department gained operational control of the Lawrence Correctional Alternative Center in April, 1976. The facility sits on 13 acres bordered by the Merrimack River and interstate 495. Seven of the 13 acres are used to grow fresh produce that is harvested to feed the male and female offenders incarcerated at Middleton, Lawrence and Salisbury.
The Marston Street complex was initially opened by the city of Lawrence in 1869 as a reform school for recalcitrant boys. Today, the site is being used as a pre-release facility to turn offenders with drug and alcohol addictions into productive members of society.
REHABILITATION AND EDUCATIONAL SERVICES
The CAC has the capacity to house 290 offenders. Violent criminals and sex offenders are ineligible for placement. Offenders are assigned through a classification process conducted at the Middleton House of Correction.
Programs offered include:
- SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT COMMUNITY FOR OFFENDERS (SATCO)
- ANGER MANAGEMENT
- ALTERNATIVES TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE (ATV)
- ADULT BASIC EDUCATION
Offenders who have completed their mandatory rehabilitative programs and are on the verge of being released are eligible for this program. Working with staff, offenders are placed in jobs throughout the region. Some work the first shift, others the second. Depending upon the program, the employer will pick up the offender at the facility and return him when the shift has concluded. Other offenders are brought to and from their jobs by staff.
Department employees conduct frequent security checks on these offenders. Wages earned are held by the department for the offenders and given to them upon their release. The money is also used to pay room and board, legal fees, fines, child support and victim restitution.
More than 100 offenders participate in this program. Work crews, under the supervision of staff, attend to various municipal projects in the 34 cities and towns that comprise the county. Some of the work consists of trash pickup on the region's roadways. Other projects completed include: cleaning Lawrence's Bellevue Cemetery; shoveling snow away from Lawrence's fire hydrants; painting Salisbury Town Hall; setting flags atop the graves of Newburyport's veterans; clearing a vacant lot on Saunders Street in Salem; painting Haverhill's skate park; and constructing Newburyport's skate park.