PHOTOCAPTION: Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins (front row, 2nd from right), Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley (front row, far left), State Representative Adrian Madaro (front row, far right) and Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina (front row, 2nd from left) with East Boston High School teacher Richard LaCara (standing, far right) and his class at the Nashua Street Jail.

Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins welcomed a group of students from East Boston High School for a tour and ceremony held to recognize their completion of the Overcoming Violence Curriculum.

 First created in 2004 by the Office of the Suffolk County District Attorney as a reality-based curriculum called “Understanding Violence,” the Overcoming Violence Curriculum teaches about “the importance of education and direction in keeping teens and young adults away from gangs and violence.” In collaboration with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, the City of Boston, and UMass Boston, the program shows participants a video with interviews featuring criminal justice professionals, survivors of violent crime, incarcerated offenders, and others to illustrate the long-term consequences of positive and negative choices, along with an educational component that facilitates discussion about strategies for success aimed directly at today’s young people.

 Accompanied by Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, State Representative Adrian Madaro, Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina, and East Boston High School teacher Richard LaCara, the class visit included a tour of the Nashua Street Jail, a sit-down meeting and question and answer session with an inmate, and a lunchtime speaking program delivered by Sheriff Tompkins and his fellow elected officials.

“Don’t take this time for granted,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “These years in high school move very quickly and you have to be conscious about the decisions that you make every day. You heard from one of our inmates earlier – jail is not the place you want to be. You want to be out there studying, playing ball, living life, not wearing a jumpsuit. All of your freedom is taken away from you when you come to prison.”

“This is not where you want to end up,” cautioned Representative Madaro, in agreement. “I had a friend that I grew up with who ended up in prison and, with his record, his life will never be the same. You don’t want to ruin your life.”

Speaking about the curriculum and the motivation behind its creation, DA Conley said, “It’s our hope that as few people as possible end up in the system and, for those who do end up there, we want to make sure that they never come back to it in the future. I think this is a worthwhile effort because we know from past experience that it is possible to overcome violence and lead a positive life.” 

To learn more about the Overcoming Violence Curriculum, visit: