We have a primary for the sheriff election on Thursday. I wasn’t even sure what sheriffs do in Massachusetts because they aren’t law enforcement. It turns out they they run the county jails/prisons. In my search on the people running I came across this profile of the man who is retiring from the position.
“Most of these guys come in angry,” he continues, “and if they’re angry, addicted, or even hungry, you can’t treat them. To get their attention, you have to get the drugs out of their system, feed them, show them respect, and hope they’ll deliver the same back. And, surprisingly, when they get over the shock of being treated well — at first they think we’re toying with them — they usually do.”
That’s a quote from my county’s outgoing sheriff. Unsurprisingly, this strategy is effective. His prison’s recidivism rate is 19%. The national rate is 60%.
We talk a lot on Jezebel and Groupthink about prison reform, how hard it is, what it should look like, etc. I’m pretty sure this is an example of something that works.
Now I have to decide who to vote for. It seems that much higher stakes now that I understand what the new sheriff will be inheriting.