The Essex Sheriff’s Department (SDE) was established as an independent state agency on July 1, 1999, after Essex County government was abolished. The Sheriff became an employee of the Commonwealth but remained an elected official and retained administrative and operational control over SDE.

SDE is responsible for running and overseeing all aspects of its facilities, which include its administrative office in Middleton; the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton; the Correctional Alternative Center in Lawrence; the Women in Transition Center in Salisbury; and three Offices of Community Corrections in Lawrence, Salisbury, and Lynn.

In addition to managing the operations of its facilities, SDE offers educational and vocational training programs to prepare inmates for life after their incarceration. These courses and training include, but are not limited to, automotive technician training; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning training; graphic arts training; culinary arts training; computer skills training; adult basic education; drug and alcohol counseling; substance abuse treatment; and anger management courses. SDE also operates the Treatment and Recovery from Addictions in Corrections Program: an 80-bed substance abuse treatment program in which members focus on changing behavior, recovering from addictions, and confronting destructive attitudes.

Further, SDE has a Civil Process Division (CPD) that is responsible for executing court orders, including summonses and complaints, subpoenas, and writs of attachment throughout the 34 cities and towns of Essex County. SDE operates two CPD offices (one in Lawrence and one in Salem) with 11 full-time employees: a director, an assistant director, three enforcement deputies, and six clerks. CPD uses deputy sheriffs who are not state employees and are appointed pursuant to Sections 3 and 11 of Chapter 37 of the Massachusetts General Laws to serve legal documents and notices.

SDE oversees the Essex County Regional Emergency Communications Center (RECC) in Middleton, which (1) provides emergency dispatch services for police and fire departments for the communities of Amesbury, Essex, Middleton, Topsfield, and Wenham and (2) answers wireless 911 calls in Essex County, most of Middlesex County, and parts of Suffolk County. The center operates separately from SDE and has its own operating budget, which is subsidized in part by SDE. The Sheriff of SDE serves as an ex officio nonvoting member of the three advisory boards that govern the Essex County RECC.

As of December 31, 2016, SDE had approximately 622 employees. SDE had an inmate population of 1,522 as of that date, and during the audit period, it had an average inmate census of 1,507 inmates. The Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton has an inmate capacity of 1,260 beds and had an average inmate census of 1,173 inmates during our audit period. The Correctional Alternative Center in Lawrence has a capacity of 336 beds and had an average inmate census of 294 inmates during our audit period. The Women in Transition Center in Salisbury has a 24-bed capacity and had an average inmate census of 40 inmates during our audit period, including inmates out on electronic monitoring.

SDE received state appropriations of $53,795,787 in fiscal year 2016 and $53,257,829 in fiscal year 2017 for its operations. It also received $16,766,627 in fiscal year 2016 and $14,827,255 in fiscal year 2017 as supplemental state funding in addition to its initial appropriation.

Date published: August 27, 2018

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