Hodgson is MA’s best-known sheriff, most think the system works differently for different people – Fall River Reporter
BOSTON — As campaigns for sheriffs brew in Massachusetts, fewer than one in five Massachusetts voters (17%) can correctly name their local sheriff, according to a poll released by the ACLU of Massachusetts. The new data shows that voters in Massachusetts currently have limited knowledge of sheriffs: 90% don’t know that a sheriff’s term is six years and a significant portion of voters (41%) don’t know that sheriffs are elected and accountable only to the voters. Only a third (32%) believe sheriffs have a major impact on Massachusetts’ criminal justice system.
The ACLU poll will inform a new statewide voter education campaign, building on the ACLU’s groundbreaking “What a Difference a DA Makes.” Through community events and voter outreach, the new “Know Your Sheriff” campaign aims to raise awareness about life-changing decisions for sheriffs and how voters can move sheriffs to make communities safer and fairer for all.
“It’s time for Massachusetts to get to know our sheriffs,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “From increasing treatment options for mental health and addictions to rejecting policies that divide families, these elected officials can define and implement policies that make our communities safe and fair for all. The civil rights and civil liberties of the Bay Staters are at stake in this election.
According to the poll, voters prioritize mental health and addiction treatment, education and job training, and rehabilitation services over punishing those convicted of crimes. 65% of voters say providing mental health, addiction treatment and emotional support services should be a top priority for sheriffs who monitor people in jails and reformatories. 82% of voters say sheriffs should provide drug rehabilitation services to incarcerated people and think this is an important quality in candidates for sheriff. 67% think the system works differently for different people.
While it’s clear that most Massachusetts residents don’t know who their sheriff is, in Bristol County that’s not the case with 52% of residents able to recognize Tom Hodgson as the county’s sheriff. The next closest county is Franklin at 33%, with Suffolk trailing behind at just 6%.
“Public health is on the ballot this fall,” said Laura Rótolo, field director at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Sheriffs control conditions inside prisons, including medical care and access to drug and mental health treatment. Sheriffs also decide what education and treatment programs to offer, so that those who return to their communities are prepared to do so in a positive way.
The new poll shows a clear opportunity to increase voter engagement in Massachusetts sheriff races: After hearing facts about the daily impact sheriffs can have on the lives of individuals and in communities, 71% of voters say they are very likely to vote in the next election. for the local sheriff, an increase of 26 points since the start of the investigation (45%).
The survey, conducted by Beacon Research, interviewed 970 registered Massachusetts voters online. Slight weightings were applied to ensure that the sample accurately reflects the demographic profile of the Massachusetts electorate.