Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon, Jr. hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and Open House for the Sheriff’s Transition and Re-entry Team (S.T.A.R.T.) Resource Center on the grounds of the Yaphank Jail. The S.T.A.R.T. Resource Center offers a range of practical transitional services for people leaving the county jail, including employment assistance, connections to housing, treatment and mental healthcare, clothing, food, pandemic advice, and so much more. It is staffed by correction officers and human service volunteers from the non-profit community.
The creation of the Resource Center, which is a highly unique and innovative model, has been a dream of Sheriff Toulon’s. It was developed based on his experiences working for more than 30 years in the field of law enforcement and corrections. “When I was a young child, I asked my father, a warden on Riker’s Island, what he did for a living. He said, ‘We rehabilitate people.’ That stuck with me throughout my 30 year career in law enforcement and creating this Resource Center is the realization of a lifelong dream to send people back into the community with the tools they need to be productive members of society.”
The Center had a soft launch in February and stayed open during the height of the pandemic, serving more than 100 clients. A ribbon cutting ceremony, previously planned for early April had to be postponed due to the COVID-19.
More than 30 local elected officials and non-profit sector leaders joined Sheriff Toulon to celebrate the new S.T.A.R.T. Resource Center and its early success serving transitioning inmates. Suffolk County DA Tim Sini spoke at the event, saying, “The Sheriff and I want to use the criminal justice system as a way to help people. This resource center does just that.”