Boston, MA – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced the appointment of Thomas Turco as the new commissioner of the Department of Correction. With his extensive background in probation, Turco is well positioned to implement the Administration’s aggressive focus on enhancing inmates’ ability to successfully re-enter society following their release.
“Ninety percent of inmates in state prison will return to a life outside the walls, and the Department of Correction therefore has an important responsibility to prepare them for the lives they will lead as productive members of society,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Tom Turco has the right background and expertise to accelerate re-entry programs and lead a department whose operations are critical to ensuring the safety of the people of Massachusetts.”
“Throughout his career Tom has proven himself capable of leading important changes across the organizations he has managed, and I am very confident in his ability to lead the Department of Correction forward,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett. “I want to thank former commissioner Carol Higgins O’Brien for her years of service to the people of Massachusetts and for agreeing to assist during this transition.”
“The Department of Correction has responsibility for the 10,000 inmates in the state correctional system and the overwhelming majority of them will be released back into their communities, which is what makes it so important that we redouble our efforts on re-entry,” said Commissioner Turco. “I am proud to take on the responsibility of leading this Department, which has so many professionals who are also dedicated to achieving this goal.”
For the past year, Turco has served as Undersecretary of Criminal Justice within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. In this role he provided strategic direction to the Department of Correction, to the Parole Board, and to the Sex Offender Registry Board while serving as liaison to the county sheriffs.
Turco began his criminal justice career in 1989 when he was appointed as a Probation Officer in the Westborough District Court. In 2000 he was promoted to Probation-Officer-In-Charge both at the Hampden and Worcester Community Corrections Centers under Sheriffs Ashe and Flynn, respectively. In 2003 he was named Chief Probation Officer of the Worcester Superior Court. For twelve years, CPO Turco supervised the operations of the probation department in the Worcester Superior Court for Worcester County.
Under his leadership, the Court implemented a number of programs that bolstered public safety. These included the Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry program and Fatherhood Program and partnerships with a local treatment provider to offer weekly sex-offender treatment. “Operation Watchdog,” a joint effort with the Worcester Police Department created in 2008, successfully combined efforts to enhance the supervision of sex offenders.
Turco earned a degree in Criminal Justice from St. Anselm College and holds a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Western New England College. He is also a graduate of the Florida Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Training Academy. Turco is active in his hometown of Auburn where he has served as Parks Commissioner and as a member of the Auburn Foundation Advisory Committee.