Bill Thompson, Democrat for Sheriff

On Being a Jailer...

One of the most important and biggest jobs your Sheriff needs to perform is to run the jail.  This can be a challenge for several reasons, including the sheer number of inmates, and the severity of the crimes they are accused (or have been convicted) of committing.  Although the job is challenging, with the correct leadership in place it  is not only doable, but can be done in a way that makes our community safer, reduces rates of recidivism,  and saves tax payer dollars.  

The St. Joseph County Jail building itself is a very large facility at almost 250,000 square feet.  The food service operation serves over 600,000 meals every year indicating the number of inmates coming in and out annually.    When an inmate arrives, we become responsible for every aspect of his or her life making this a 24 hour a day, 365 day a year job. Running the jail and its associated operations like inmate transportation, takes over half of our 300 committed, hard-working, professional employees.  In addition, recent changes to Indiana law have increased the number of inmates we are required to keep, without an increase in funding.  Despite this, the real challenge seems to lie in the inmates themselves and the high number of inmates who return to the jail over and over.       

As a newly hired County Police Officer, my first assignment was the Jail Division; not the current modern facility, but the one on South Main Street in downtown South Bend.  During this time I learned the basics that I still teach to new employees.  One being that people in jail are still just that- people, and that many are arrested and jailed for actions driven by addiction, intoxication and undiagnosed or untreated mental illness.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I am a cop at heart, so I know that there are some people in jail who are violent, unrepentant victimizers, and they should be locked up.  However, most people in jail will receive their sanctions and return to living in the community.  I believe that securing appropriate programs for this segment of the jailed population will reduce recidivism, will help those returning to the community be more productive citizens, and in the end, save tax payer money. 

Our staff is able and ready to take on the task and as voters you must ensure that the leadership you elect is able and ready, as well.  Skillful administration will be required to find the right programs and services, bring them to the jail and cost-effectively implement them.  Expansion of partnerships with other government agencies and community organizations will be vital.  With a team effort led by a skilled Sheriff, we can develop lasting solutions that will help those who are able to be rehabilitated to return to the community safely and not return to jail.  I am ready to take on this challenge as your next Sheriff.             

Paid for by the Bill Thompson for Sheriff Committee, Linda Sulich, Treasurer
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