To the editor: It has been my honor and privilege to have worked with Sheriff Thomas Bowler for the past 12 years of my 40-plus years in this field. He has allowed me and the staff the leadership, support and direction required to help the people we serve.
Under Sheriff Bowler, we have seen expansions in all areas of programming including substance abuse, mental health, behavioral change, education, community service, work programs, religious services and reentry programs. His progressive leadership has allowed us to offer more than 60 programs.
Our skill-building certifications include Occupational Safety and Health Administration 30-hour training for construction and manufacturing, MACWIC for manufacturing, HOTWORKS for welding, ServSafe for food industry and entrepreneur programs, as well as our work programs for kitchen skills, janitorial, print shop, store room, laundry, hydroponics program, community service and work release. Affiliated employers have included Unistress, Sampco Ind., LTI Smartglass, Cavallero Plastics Inc. and Dunkin to name a few.
Our education department teaches resume building, job interviewing, high school equivalency diploma, computer skills, collaboration programs like financial literacy through Greylock Federal, mediations with families through Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, literacy program with local author Ty Allen Jackson, Narcan training with Berkshire Harm Reduction and successful collaborations with Berkshire Community and Williams Colleges.
Our very dedicated staff work extremely hard to deliver this large array of programs and classes.
But even more importantly, it is necessary to understand that approximately 85 percent of the people we serve suffer from substance abuse and/or mental health disorders. Programming must therefore be designed to stabilize both mental health and substance abuse issues before any other work can begin. Sheriff Bowler understands this and we place an emphasis on this type of care.
Furthermore, it is vital that the men and women leaving custody have a place to reside, health insurance, identification, medical and mental health appointments, substance abuse appointments, means of transportation, and access to our Second Street reentry facility.
Sheriff Bowler continues to have a visionary approach to corrections and reentry. For these reasons, and because Sheriff Bowler is a man of integrity, honesty and love for his community and the people we serve, I support Sheriff Bowler for reelection.
Al Bianchi, Pittsfield