Hodgson Addresses Inmate Suicide, Shrugs off Healey
Republican Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson appeared on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight on Wednesday to attempt to set the record straight on the suicide of a high-profile detainee that occurred at Ash Street Jail in New Bedford, as well as discuss his campaign for reelection, and take calls from the audience.
Hodgson vehemently defended his staff's handling of the now-deceased 34-year-old Adam Howe, who died by apparent suicide in the sheriff's custody after Howe was accused of killing his mother and setting her body on fire outside of their home in Truro.
According to Hodgson, his staff went "above and beyond" the suicide prevention protocols that were required given the fact that Cape Cod Hospital had medically cleared Howe for police custody. The sheriff accused the hospital of misdiagnosing Howe and thus misleading his staff on the extent to which Howe needed to be monitored.
Throughout his two-hour appearance on Wednesday, Hodgson spent most of the time taking calls from both his supporters and detractors in the audience.
"Sheriff Hodgson, thank you for your service; I will probably cast my vote for you on November 8," said one caller
"While I think you're a great politician, you're just running a jail that is out of control," said another caller.
One of the issues brought up by a caller was Bristol County's high rate of recidivism, which is the rate at which convicted offenders re-offend. Hodgson's Democratic opponent, Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, has cited a report by the Massachusetts Department of Correction that shows Bristol County has the highest rate of recidivism in the Commonwealth.
Heroux has said that this report demonstrates that Hodgson isn't doing enough to focus on rehabilitation and ensure inmates can effectively reenter society, which has an adverse effect on public safety because it makes them more likely to re-offend.
Hodgson rebuffed the results of the DOC report, saying that it doesn't show the rate inmates of his correctional facilities re-offend and end up back in prison, but rather it shows only the rate of reoffending for people who have an address in Bristol County, and that the subjects in the report who lived in Bristol County could have also been in incarcerated in state prison and federal prison or other county jails as well.
"This is what happens when people try to grab things and use them to their advantage without really understanding what's going on," Hodgson said.
Hodgson maintains that there is no methodology available to accurately determine the rate at which county jail inmates re-offend, and that the Commonwealth and sheriff's departments are working on uniform formula and definition of recidivism to get a clearer picture.
The longtime Republican incumbent also shrugged off the news that Heroux has been endorsed by Democratic Attorney General and longtime political adversary Maura Healey and her running mate, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, widely expected to be the next governor of and lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.
When asked if he is concerned whether or not Healey's more than 30-point polling lead over Republican opponent Geoff Deihl in the gubernatorial would help Democrats in down-ballot races like Heroux, Hodgson expressed confidence that voters in Bristol County would split their ticket.
"I always put my faith in the people in this county to make decisions on what they believe is best for them," Hodgson said.
"He has Maura Healey's endorsement, God bless her." Hodgson added. "I wasn't seeking Maura Healey's support, trust me."
Hodgson then pivoted to endorsements he received from law enforcement unions such as Taunton Police, Customs and Border Patrol as well as Democrat Francis Bellotti, former Attorney General of Massachusetts.
Hodgson similarly brushed off an internal poll by the Heroux campaign recently reported in Politico's Massachusetts Playbook that shows the sheriff's race in a statistical tie with Hodgson leading Heroux 47-45 percent and a margin for error of 4.9 percent.
"I would tell you our internal polling is very different than my opponents." Hodgson said.
Listen to Chris McCarthy and Marcus Ferro's full interview with Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson on SouthCoast Tonight.