Opinion: Sheriff Paul Heroux has made a significant difference

Jan 5, 2024

To the editor:

Sheriff Paul Heroux has made a significant difference in the lives of the incarcerated and their families since assuming his office almost a year ago.  His major theme during the campaign was to concentrate on rehabilitation of the convicted individuals rather than punishment and deprivation, thereby reducing their inclination to re-commit crime and ultimately keeping  the community safer and tax payers’ costs lower.

These positive effects are not being proclaimed  by paid staff in press releases, but are contained in the many letters the sheriff is receiving from people who are incarcerated.  Pursuant to a statutory records request I sent to the sheriff’s office I received copies of these letters written to Sheriff Heroux (names re-dacted for confidentiality). 

It is encouraging to those who supported and believed in the concept of rehabilitation as the most effective strategy for reducing the increasing rate of imprisonment in America.

The consistent theme in these letters is the gratitude for treating them as human beings, taking responsibility for their imprisonment and expressing the changes they hope to accomplish upon release.

The letters refer to the Improved food, medical attention, safer environment, vocational training, and concentrating on their post release conditions that are improving their outlook and reducing their anger and sense of hopelessness.

They are not being coddled or provided more than the law and regulations require.  They are for the first time being treated in a manner that acknowledges that their loss of freedom should be the price they pay and should not be compounded with inhumane conditions that contribute to their anger and justify their continued life of addiction and crime .

Their expression of gratitude for these changes should provide all the voters of Sheriff Heroux with satisfaction and encouragement to remain involved in promoting effective and ethical public officials, especially in the upcoming state and federal elections. 

Betty Ussach, Dartmouth