The Bristol County Massachusetts sheriff, Thomas Hodgson, must be breathing a huge sigh of relief based on hope.
Unlike other states where the sheriff is a full-fledged law enforcer, the sheriffs in Massachusetts run the jails. They do not patrol streets, they do not make routine arrests, they do not get involved in televised car chases.
They run the jails and make sure inmates get to and from courts.
The Bristol county sheriff, though, wants to be more.
To that end, he is constantly chasing cameras like a bad lawyer chases ambulances, and he brays his theme that everything he does is to keep the people of his county safe.
But to do this according to his personal morphing of his job, he has to neglect his actual job.
He runs to Washington DC to testify about illegal immigrants making claims that are, as he has said himself, not based on actual statistic but, rather, common sense. He is an expert on this subject based solely on his job and his unsupported opinion.
He goes on conservative radio talk shows to pontificate, and the audience loves him, not because he is telling them what they need to know, but repeating what they love to hear.
When Aaron Hernandez was in the Bristol County Jail, the sheriff was a constant figure on local news telling us all about Hernandez and his opinions about him until, because of treatment at the sheriff’s hand, Hernandez’s lawyers got him transferred to another county jail to end the harassment and mistreatment.
Although he may have committed suicide in the second jail, a considerable amount of damage that resulted in that could have been done in the Bristol County Jail judging by how the sheriff acted and runs his jail.
He refuses the necessary mental health support for inmates, and compounds this with arbitrarily placing people in solitary confinement, and, as a result, he has the largest number of suicides of any county jail in the state. When he is asked for relevant data, he refuses to release data, insisting on hiding behind “confidentiality”.
He goes on local and national TV shows because he likes to be seen, and seems eager to get some job higher up on the ladder.
But, to do all that, he has to not do his job.
He buys unnecessary boats to patrol the coastal waters. Not his job; never will be.
He attempts to silence the Corrections Officer Union and costs the county taxpayers millions in law suits.
He triple bunks inmates on make-shift bunk beds.
He denies inmates access to their necessary medications.
He cut off air conditioning in the female wing of the jail while keeping it going in the male section.
He attempted to charge inmates a daily fee during the time of their incarceration, got sued for that, lost, and cost the county millions in fees and court costs.
He ends personal contact visitations in favor of a Skype-like video contact, and then plans to charge the inmates’ families.
He has denied access to religious services.
He attends local events wearing identifiable clothing so people will see him.
He enjoys a nice glass of Madeira wine publicly at a local community fair while wearing his side arm.
He gives patronage jobs to the lawyers who represent him in his multiple losing court cases, and to big campaign donors.
So with Joe Arpaio being pardoned for ignoring court orders, Hodgson must be thrilled he can do as he wants, ignore people’s Constitutional rights, and waste taxpayer money on personal failed projects and patronage, and he could be pardoned for the damage he has done to the people of the county and people’s respect for the law.
Hiding behind his claim that everything he does is to keep the people of the county safe, he promotes himself and his personal agenda.
And it costs money and lives.