Opinion: The true cost of Sheriff Hodgson

Jun 13, 2022

To the editor:

In addition to the millions of dollars paid for legal representation of Sheriff Thomas  Hodgson, in the many law suits brought against him and his personnel, during the many years as sheriff of Bristol County, can be added the many millions more for  pension generated appointments he has made. Then there is the incalculable cost perpetuated by the lack of meaningful programs to reduce recidivism. And most interestingly his salary appears higher than most sheriffs despite his excessive and well documented absence from duty while promoting himself and his political agenda.

Commencing in 1997 when Hodgson became the sheriff for Bristol County he launched the campaign of being tough on crime by penalizing, rather than rehabilitating the incarcerated, at great cost to taxpayers who bear the brunt of crime and re-incarceration.

Within one year Hodgson, after assuming his position as sheriff,  he increased the payroll by 21 percent from $333,332.00 to $403,653.00, by adding 76 new employees : 14 new Correction officers and the other 62  as administrative staff and other non-union personnel. (“High-Profile Donors,” Standard-Times, 10/11/1998).

Several years later he added the “keeping our community safe from undocumented immigrants” to his oft repeated mantras and hitching his star, and taxpayer monies, to white supremacist  organizations, he  travelled to other regions of the United States,  spouting divisive rhetoric about immigrants.

During all these fear mongering years the sheriff has  continued to amass enormous taxpayer costs by employing cronies and supporters by   creating pension enhancing positions that have  no relationship to management of a correctional facility. These pensions undoubtedly now figure in the millions and are almost impossible  to calculate precisely, which has enabled Hodgson to  continue doling out these jobs.

In 2010 an investigative reporter, having done extensive research wrote the following: “Hodgson himself has given out an unusually high number of special job titles that automatically qualify employees for bigger pensions… Hodgson acknowledged that some  employees have seen their pensions balloon as a result of their service in his office.” (Andrea Estes, Boston Globe, 3/9/2010).

Despite the disclosure of the enormous expense of creating top-heavy administrative positions,  that taxpayers are ostensibly paying for to this day, Sheriff Hodgson it is reported, is less than sensitive to the needs and merits of the correctional guards who are quitting and retiring in higher numbers than usual.

Perhaps the realization of the enormous costs and failed management policies will activate voters, including his previous supporters, to elect a new sheriff.

Betty Ussach,