Sheriff Ashe strongly believes that the inmate who desires to build a law-abiding life should be challenged with the tools and directions to do so, and that this should take place in a safe, secure, orderly, demanding and humane environment.
Among the operations at Hampden County that Sheriff Ashe is most proud of are the nation's first Day Reporting Center, started in 1986, which successfully and safely supervises inmates living at home at the end of their sentence, and which has been replicated throughout the country; an inmate education program that has graduated over 3600 GED high school equivalency diploma recipients; a prison industry program, York Street Industries, which runs in the black; an inmate community service restitution program which has contributed over 1,000,000 hours of service to Hampden County communities; the nation's first After Incarceration Support Systems program to assist inmates during the critical time of community re-entry; and a medical department which has developed a new paradigm for correctional medicine in its linkage to community-based health centers, and which was selected in 1998 as the facility of the year by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
Sheriff Ashe has a "40 hour work week" policy for sentenced inmates, resulting in their averaging over 40 hours of work or other productive activities each week. Sheriff Ashe believes that those incarcerated at his facility should "answer the bell" for a productive day each morning, just like the taxpayers who pay for their incarceration do, and just like they will have to do to lead productive law-abiding lives when they are released.
The Hampden County Sheriff's Department community corrections program is the subject of an entire chapter of the book "Sensible Justice" by Daniel C. Anderson.
In 1996, the Hampden County Sheriff's Department became the first county correctional department in the nation to be awarded four (4) separate accreditations from the American Correctional Association for four different levels of security.
In February of 1990, Sheriff Ashe commandeered a National Guard armory as a temporary correctional facility because of lack of room for sentenced inmates, which the Boston Herald called "a smart, gutsy move." Time Magazine said of Sheriff Ashe: "Sheriff Ashe, an unassuming…man with a reputation for using common sense…highly regarded for his frank and even manner."
Sheriff Ashe is a past president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association. He has received, among other awards, the Howard B. Gill Lifetime Achievement Award from the Correctional Association of Massachusetts for "outstanding commitment to the field of criminal justice" and his "sense of justice, his firmness balanced with kindness, and the courage to take chances"; the Annual President's Award of the Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association, "in recognition of courageous actions on behalf of the citizens of Hampden County"; and the Beverly Ross Fliegel Public Service Memorial Award for "bringing a clear vision of social justice to the criminal justice system."
Mike and Barbara Ashe are the parents of six and the grandparents of thirteen.