Hodgson Reflects on Legacy as Bristol County Sheriff in Farewell Address
Republican Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson is saying goodbye.
Hodgson's more than 25 year run as the county's top corrections official is nearing to an end after being defeated by Democrat Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux in this year's election. Heroux will be sworn in for a six-year term as sheriff on January 4, 2023.
Heroux and Hodgson recently put the bitterness of the election behind them and began their transition, which included a meeting over breakfast and scheduling visits for Heroux to your the Bristol County Sheriff's Office facilities.
In the last two weeks of Hodgson's tenure, he delivered a farewell address on the final episode of his Just in Time TV show, in which he reflected on his more than quarter century in the office and defended key pillars of his policy agenda.
"It is a bittersweet moment," Hodgson said in the beginning of his address. "Because, of course, I had hoped I would be with you for the next six years and be able to talk about all the things that the staff will continue to do here."
Hodgson also began the address by wishing Heroux well and saying he hopes that the incoming sheriff will build upon the work his staff as done and realize how "incredibly valuable" they are. Hodgson, throughout his entire address, gave effusive commentary on the performance of his staff.
"They're amongst the best in the nation," Hodgson said. "I couldn't have been more grateful to have the opportunity to work with each and every one of them. They are the ones that really built the success."
In a recent appearance on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight, Heroux said he valued the institutional knowledge of the BCSO staff and committed to not uprooting operations or making any immediate and dramatic changes to the programming and the staff.
Hodgson then defended one of his most notable and controversial policies during his time as sheriff: removing recreational amenities for inmates such as televisions and weights.
During his time in office, Hodgson has repeatedly argued that this decision was successful in making the facilities a less desirable place to be and incentivized inmates to spend more time focusing on their rehabilitation.
"When I took over I said that jail shouldn't be a country club," Hodgson said. "It shouldn't be a place where they don't mind being and they don't mind coming back."
"I was criticized and told I was 'Atilla the Hun,' but the truth was, we started to see when inmates didn't have the choice to sit around, play cards, lift weights, hang out, watch TV, and play in the gymnasium that suddenly they had to make responsible decisions," he said.
Hodgson argued that the BCSO inmates have one of the highest HiSet (High School Equivalency Test) graduation rates in the Commonwealth due in part to the decision to remove those amenities and adding vocational programs such as the recently established CDL training that allows inmates to obtain CDL licensure before they leave.
Hodgson also stood by arguably his most controversial policy: his belief in the expansive role that the sheriff plays in the community beyond running the correctional facilities. Specifically, he defended his position as an outspoken critic of illegal immigration, an issue that made him a national conservative firebrand.
"People said, 'Why would a sheriff be involved in illegal immigration? That's a federal issue,'" Hodgson said. "Well, yeah, you would think it would be, but the truth of the matter is that it's everything but a federal issue now. Every community in the United States now is a border community."
The outgoing sheriff also reflected on the partnerships that he and his office had forged with community organizations such as with the Friends of Jack Foundation and Dennison Memorial.
He closed by thanking the residents of Bristol County for giving him the opportunity to serve.
"Let me me end by saying how grateful I am," Hodgson said. "How privileged I feel and how honored I have been to be able to serve as your sheriff for 25 and a half years. Because you trusted me, because you believed in me, and because you worked hard on my behalf to make sure that I had the opportunities to do what I felt was right with all of my staff. To protect you. To work with the inmates on their rehabilitation and build new programs for new opportunities."
"I consider myself truly blessed, and I thank each and every one of you who crossed my path along way, giving me encouragement, support, and friendship," he said.