Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian
After spending more than a decade on Beacon Hill representing the 10th Middlesex District, Peter J. Koutoujian was appointed Middlesex Sheriff on January 14, 2011 by Governor Deval Patrick.
As Representative, Koutoujian held several leadership positions, including Chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health and Chairman of the Commission to End Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. He was instrumental in crafting the historic universal health insurance reform law, the statewide workplace smoking ban and legislation about new school nutrition guidelines. A staunch public safety advocate, Koutoujian led efforts for victims rights and suicide prevention.
A lawyer by trade, Sheriff Koutoujian served as a Middlesex County prosecutor before being elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1996. He has worked as an adjunct professor of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Legal Ethics at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, and taught a course on American Government at Bentley University in Waltham. He is a frequent guest lecturer at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston University School of Public Health and Northeastern University.
Sheriff Koutoujian earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in psychology from Bridgewater State College and earned his Juris Doctor from the New England School of Law. He also earned a Masters Degree in Public Affairs from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Sheriff Koutoujian is a lifelong resident of Waltham, where he serves on the boards of several local organizations, including the West Suburban Samaritans, Waltham Boys & Girls Club, Newton Boys & Girls Club, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence and the Newton Community Service Center.
Peter J. Koutoujian was sworn in as the 30th Sheriff of Middlesex County on January 21, 2011. During his six years in office, Sheriff Koutoujian has focused on launching a new era at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office with a series of initiatives aimed at addressing the factors that lead to incarceration using new, innovative approaches.
Established in 1692, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s office serves a population of 1.5 million people in 54 cities and towns. In his role, Koutoujian is the chief law enforcement officer of America’s 23rd most populous county and is responsible for overseeing a pretrial and sentenced population of approximately 1,100 men at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.
As a former public health official and assistant district attorney, Sheriff Koutoujian brings a unique perspective to the field of corrections. The successful programming at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office stems from Sheriff Koutoujian’s belief that incarceration can be “a window of opportunity” to address the factors that lead to criminal behavior.
Under Sheriff Koutoujian’s leadership the MSO has launched multiple programs aimed at giving individuals with substance use and mental health disorders a second chance by offering them treatment and a path toward recovery. Programs offered at the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction include medication assisted treatment, a specialized veterans unit and modified cognitive behavioral therapy programs.
Now in his second term, the Sheriff is receiving national attention for his work to reform our justice system so it is responsive, cost-effective, and prioritizes rehabilitation, while protecting public safety.
In just the last two legislative sessions, Sheriff Koutoujian testified in favor of successful efforts to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction and repeal the automatic license suspension law for those convicted of non-motor vehicle drug offenses. He also spearheaded bipartisan legislation, which calls for the Medicaid of those entering incarceration to be suspended, rather than terminated, allowing for greater continuity of post-release care.
Sheriff Koutoujian is a founding member of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration, a national group of over 150 police chiefs, attorneys general, chief prosecutors and agency leaders committed to reducing rates of incarceration. In October 2015, Koutoujian also was selected to serve as a member of the bipartisan Massachusetts Criminal Justice Working Group which provided recommendations on reforms to the Commonwealth’s criminal justice laws.
- In January 2016, Sheriff Koutoujian created a special correctional unit—the first in Massachusetts—designed specifically for individuals who have served in the military. The Housing Unit for Military Veterans (HUMV), which has been lauded across the country, is designed to utilize the training and bonds of military service to help veteran offenders rebuild their lives and reduce future incarceration. Through one year, over 100 men have participated in the unit with 89 returning to the community and 86% of those who have been released have not re-offended.
- In October 2015, Sheriff Koutoujian launched the Medication Assisted Treatment And Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) Program. This voluntary medication assisted treatment program utilizing a long-lasting form of naltrexone, as well as counseling for those leaving custody. In just over one year, 64 men have successfully completed the six-month program, with only one of those re-incarcerated.
- In October 2015, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office implemented the Monday Moments Speaker Series which brings in speakers once a month from the community to speak with inmates about their own battles to confront addiction, as well as the toll addiction has taken on their families.
- Women awaiting trial or serving Middlesex County sentences are currently at the Department of Correction (DOC) facility in Framingham. Since assuming office in 2011, Sheriff Koutoujian has ensured women have access to the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Electronic Monitoring Program and last fall program staff began traveling to the facility to provide case worker services.
- In 2016 Sheriff Koutoujian spearheaded a group of nearly two dozen Middlesex County law enforcement agencies in joining the White House-led Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative. This unique collaboration is designed to enhance data collection and utilization with a goal of decreasing incarceration and emergency room visits for those suffering from mental health and substance use disorders.