- Massachusetts Probation Service
Media Contact for Chelsea Probation Womanhood Program, first to target Latinas, celebrates 10th anniversary and hosts graduation ceremony
Coria Holland, Communications Director
Chelsea, MA — The Chelsea District Court Probation Department celebrated its Womanhood Program’s graduation and its 10th anniversary. Eleven women, ages 18 to 89, graduated while donning caps and gowns on Monday, December 3, at Chelsea Court. The Womanhood Program, also referred to as “Programa de la Mujer,” launched in 2008 as the first program of its kind in the state designed specifically to meet the needs of court-involved Latinas.
Ten years later, it is still the only program that specifically targets Spanish-speaking women on probation although it is open to women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, according to Chelsea District Court Probation Officer Olga Lattarulo, one of the program’s founders.
Caption: (Back) APO Monica Arriasa, Office Manager Michelle Lupis, Alejandra Sanchez, Marcia Codero-Ross, First Justice Mattew Machera, Angelina Jenks, Esther Muniz, Maria Pacheco, CPO Carmen Gomez. (Front) Estefani Barrientos. Probation Officer Olga Lattarulo, Ana Gonzales, Josephine Cioffi, Cristina Orrillo
Lattarulo said the program is needed in the city where 70 percent of residents are of Latin descent. The 15-week program also has a 10 percent recidivism rate, according to Lattarulo. Completion of the program by participants results in a three-month reduction in probation as well as $95 reduction in probation supervision fees the women are required to pay.
“If you want to stop recidivism, you have to have programs that motivate and introduce people to resources that will assist them,” said Lattarulo who together with Probation Officers Carolyn Shannon, Debra Cerundolo and then Associate Probation Officer Christine Thomas developed this initiative.
“The purpose of this program is to provide a better understanding of the judicial system. A lot of times, people break the law due to their lack of knowledge of how it works. However, if we educate the community and the women in the community, it helps them understand, adapt, and learn how to become law abiding citizens,” Lattarulo added.
During the two-hour per week sessions--many conducted in both Spanish and English--the participants hear from a roster of speakers and a variety of topics including anger management, substance abuse, and domestic violence. Topics such as stress, anxiety, and nutrition are also explored during these weekly sessions. The program is offered twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring.
Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan said of the program, “This is a great example of the Probation Service working with those in our care and custody to make positive changes in their lives. Chelsea District’s Womanhood Program has been and continues to be successful in reducing recidivism by supporting women in making those positive changes.”
Dolan added, “To the extent we are successful, the women's lives are made better, their families' lives are improved and our communities are made safer. We know that the hard work is done by the women and we are proud to be in a position to support them.”
The Womanhood Program is one of three Womanhood Programs across the state. Womanhood Programs are open to women who are not mothers. Probation also operates six Mothers or Motherhood Programs across the Commonwealth.