What exactly are Sheriffs responsible for?
In continuing the conversation about who Sheriffs are and what they do, what exactly are Sheriffs responsible for? Most people have no idea.
Sheriffs are part of the criminal justice system but have a unique function within it: they provide care and custody for those who are detained or sentenced by the courts. Sheriffs oversee the jails, where people are held awaiting trial if they are held without bail or a bail higher than they can pay. Sheriffs also oversee the houses of correction, where convicted offenders serve their sentences if those sentences are 2.5 years or less. Sheriffs also oversee the office of civil process, where "papers" are prepared and then served, such as eviction notices, notices of lawsuits, or warrants, etc. Sheriffs also oversee the office of Community Corrections, where those on parole or probation check in or participate in programming as a condition of their release or ability to remain free from custody. And beyond that, a Sheriff is free to determine the level of engagement she would like to have with the surrounding communities. There is a fair amount of discretion in the position, and what I have learned in my visits to the county facilities around the state is that no two are alike, and the present Hampshire County Jail is like traveling back in time 25 years. So the question for Hampshire County is: what kind of Sheriff do we want? Do we want someone who does the minimum? Do we want someone who does things the way they've always been done? Or do we want someone who believes in restorative social justice for those who have been marginalized, who understands how to communicate, lead, and get things done, who is transparent, accountable, and responsive to the community she serves? Hampshire County will have a clear choice on September 6. Justice delayed is justice denied, and we've been waiting a long time already. Ask questions. Ask a lot of questions. Look beneath the surface and don't accept the status quo as a given. We can, and WILL do better. #KnowYourSheriff