Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson has stated that his job is to keep the people of Bristol County safe, but his actual job is to run his jail.
He does not patrol our streets. He does not respond to our 911 calls.
He is supposed to run his jails in such a way that after their incarceration, inmates reenter the community with better attitudes and prepared to live lives that contribute to it, not threaten it with the possibility of future crimes. They are supposed to become better people for themselves and the community. They should have been shown that what contributed to their rejection of law has alternatives and can be overcome.
And if, like most of us, they have lived law abiding lives with exception of the one error in judgment or act of desperation that led to a pretrial, temporary incarceration, or have been found guilty of a crime requiring a short jail sentence, they should not be forced to change their attitude into one that leads them to commit further crimes by the very system whose job it is not to produce criminals
Rehabilitation programs work better at doing this than strong statements not backed up by real actions while running a jail that has the highest rate of suicides of all the state’s county jails, that lacks the necessary counseling for inmates who need it and people in jail for the first time in their lives and may not be adjusting well to that, harassing and bullying inmates that may not be white or straight, where there is overcrowding and chain gangs, no effective drug treatment programs, overuse of solitary confinement, overcharging for canteen and phone calls from which the sheriff takes a cut, or denying the necessary prescription drugs to those who need them.
The sheriff loves displays of authority and will look for opportunities to intimidate not only his inmates, but the general public.
One evening as law abiding citizens, who had attended a meeting on the sheriff’s ICE cooperation actions, a meeting to which the public was invited by the sheriff, were leaving the meeting room and exiting the building, they were greeted by deputy sheriffs and the K-9 van with barking dogs in it. There was no need for this display. It was obviously meant to intimidate those in attendance, especially since the majority of those in attendance opposed the sheriff’s exaggerated cooperation with ICE and had asked questions that called for him to account for his actions and his many exaggerated and false statements about the community members he holds to stereotypes and white supremacist talking points.
Rather than turning people away from their criminal habits or modifying their attitudes that would go a long way to changing how they behave, the treatment at the Bristol County House of Corrections promotes hatred of the legal system and all connected to it, and those who support it.
The treatment at the county jail promotes anger, self-destructive tendencies, and a high state of anxiety.
This is neither doing his real job, nor keeping anyone safe
The sheriff has said, “Our firm, demanding approach to corrections works well”, and, “Jail is not a country club. That’s why once you’ve done time in the Bristol County House of Corrections, you won’t want to come back.” However, twice in the last five years his rate of recidivism was the highest in the state, and whether in the top spot or his consistent place closest to it, his recidivism rate has been in the 40% and above range. That means that almost half of those released from his jail do, in fact, return.
His methods do not work, and his tough talk, though colorful, is empty words. He is not keeping us safe as obviously he is not doing what he should be doing for our safety.
If he were to chose running the jail properly instead of participating in racist anti-immigration rallies, running wherever there is a microphone, a television camera, or a right wing talk show, his recidivism and suicide rates would not be so abnormally high.
He needs to stop promoting himself as the new Joe Arpaio, and do the job he was elected to do, and when questioned produce valid facts and studies to put substance behind his bullet point, fact deficient claims as he consistently chooses not to do now..