Virginia Leigh, licensed social worker and candidate for Essex County sheriff walked a pilgrimage of 26 miles Sunday with supporters to bring attention to communities most impacted by imprisonment.
Walking from Lawrence to Lynn, the procession included Essex County residents, including victims of crime, formerly imprisoned people, union organizers, human service workers and others. Outside the Middleton Jail in Middleton, Leigh rolled out her 10-point plan for necessary changes in the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.
“This pilgrimage demonstrates the coalition we’ve built across this county. People are here who have been the victims of crime, who have been incarcerated right here in the Middleton jail and who have earned their living working for the ESCD as corrections officers,” she said in a statement after the event.
She said the change she plans to bring recognizes what works for one group doesn’t work for all. “We’ve got folks here who work in human services, veterans, union workers, faith leaders and people who were born and raised across six countries and speak at least four languages. We are Essex County and we are ready to build a different kind of system for rehabilitation that centers on human beings—those who’ve been harmed, those who have caused harm and those who work in this field,” she said.