Put an end to the divisive rhetoric and fear mongering tactics of the current administration which insidiously encourages the alienation of segments of our community.
Stop designating people with absolute labels (Good vs Evil Rhetoric). A "We vs Them"mentality is inappropriate for public service.
Put an end to the voluntary compliance of 287(g).
Incarcerating low level, non-violent people and those that suffer from substance abuse and/or mental illness should not be a goal of criminal justice.
Modernize the current technology used by the Sheriff's Office. At a click of a button you should be able to see the demographic breakdown of county staff, inmates, criminal charges pending, length of time incarcerated while awaiting trial, etc.
Promptly report incidents of concern to the tax paying public. In-custody deaths, prisoner escapees, incidences of excessive force, etc.
Establish a real and meaningful civilian oversight committee for the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office.
Being willing to admit failures, mistakes, wrongdoing, and taking the necessary corrective steps to remedy and prevent future occurrences.
One of the many roles for the Sheriff, as the head elected law enforcement official of the county, is to advocate for changes of law enforcement practices within the county that will improve public safety.
As Sheriff, I'll advocate for:
Placing power back in the hands of the public with meaningful Civilian Oversight Committees within each jurisdiction.
Cash bond reform for low-level, non violent, and non habitual offenders. The current system causes thousands of people across the country to sit in holding facilities for long periods of time while awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to pay bond. The current system, at times, encourages plea bargains from the less fortunate simply so the person can avoid an inconvenience.
Equitable and unbiased community based policing.
Diversifying the workforce to reflect the communities that each jurisdiction serves. This enhances public safety by allowing citizens to come in contact with approachable civil servants with whom they can identify.
The end of abusive/unethical practices, such as:
- Disenfranchisement of voters in the county jail. Many people being temporarily held or confined for misdemeanors have the right to vote and should be given the opportunity.
Having nontransparent and antiquated systems which makes it difficult to locate information the public needs to hold government agencies accountable.
Giving preferential treatment to certain people based on celebrity and/or occupational status when others are not afforded such privileges. Everyone deserves due process under the law. However, no one is entitled to favoritism which is indicative of classism and undermines equitable law enforcement. Such practices have no place in bias free policing.
287(g) Impact on Public Safety
What is 287(g)?
287(g) is a voluntary agreement that local law enforcement enters into with ICE in order to deputize officers/deputies to perform the role of immigration officers.
Does 287(g) have an overall positive impact on public safety?
Short answer is 'No.' There are many individuals from communities impacted by 287(g) that are reluctant to call the police and report a crime in fear that they, someone they love, or an associate may have their immigration status checked and deported. The cooperation of some of these individuals have led to the conviction of murderers, rapist, and other violent criminals. This policy contradicts theories of community policing which has been proven to have a positive impact on public safety.
But, aren't there protections in place for victim's of crime who are afraid to report crime?
There are protections in place (U Visas) but the protections aren't sufficient enough to remove the fear of deportation if a person willingly interacts with law enforcement. There is a cumbersome process for U-Visas due to bureaucracy, politics, and backlog. It requires you to be a victim of certain crimes and some legitimate victims and/or their families may still face deportation even after reporting criminal activity.
Why do agencies decide to voluntary comply?
Political expediency. Currently, immigration is a 'hot button' topic on the national stage and there are many that want an easy way to appear "tough on crime." The approach is simple and appears to be a reasonable solution to the uninformed voter. Most agencies don't voluntarily comply as I'm sure they are well aware of the negative impact this actually has on community oriented policing. There are over 15,000 Law enforcement agencies in the United States. According to ICE, 79 agencies across 21 states voluntarily comply with 287(g). Tarrant County (estimated population of 2M people) is the most populous county in the country that voluntarily complies and this is at the Sheriff's discretion.
Is it true that undocumented immigrants may be released back into society after committing a crime and is it the Sheriff's duty to ensure that doesn't happen?
Yes but this is the case for most of the accused (even citizens). This is because "presumption of innocence"and "due process"are basic rights of ALL PEOPLE accused of committing a crime in this country. Bond may/may not be set by a magistrate at arraignment and the amount requested may be substantially higher depending on if the accused is a flight risk and/or committed a violent felony. The amount and decision to allow the accused to post bail is at the discretion of a magistrate. Voluntarily complying with 287(g) also comes at a monetary cost to taxpayers. In 2017, Harris County, TX Sheriff's office decided to end voluntary compliance. A hefty $675,000/yr unreimbursed cost to Harris County, TX tax payers was mentioned as a factor in deciding to end the agreement.
Will you end the voluntary 287(g) agreement and what will the Sheriff's Office do to enhance public safety under your command?
I WILL ABSOLUTELY SEEK TO END THE AGREEMENT! For every quantifiable, positive stat you can spin as evidence of the need for policies like 287(g), you can rest-assure there are more instances of it's failure. Voluntary compliance of 287(g) is discriminatory, encourages divisiveness in our community, and undermines efforts to positively impact public safety through community oriented policing.
The Sheriff's office under my command will seek to foster an environment in which human beings are treated with dignity and have the confidence to contact local law enforcement to report criminal activity. Who wants to live in a community where someone who may have committed domestic violence, sexual assault, or other violent felonies lives undetected amongst us because a victim was afraid to interact with local law enforcement? Even with things in place to ease fears, the system has proven that there is no guarantee that a victim or their loved ones will be protected after speaking to law enforcement. We will spend your tax dollars to do the job we were tasked to do at the county level (enhance public safety and maintain the jail). ICE will be left to do the job that they were called upon to do.
Todos los seres humanos merecen ser tratados con dignidad y respeto!
It's time to stop the fear-mongering!
Access to healthcare:
The most crucial service our Sheriffs can provide is to give every inmate the tools they need to return to the community and build a new life to reduce recidivism, and in turn, create safer communities. Access to healthcare in and outside of jail should be one of the tools. Upon release, many inmates do not continue with treatment provided to them for many reasons, like lack of insurance. A person's unmanaged health conditions can lead them to commit new crimes. For example, a person in desperate need of drugs will steal if necessary; a borderline psychotic may become combative. Thus, creating a vicious cycle of incarceration, release, and reincarceration.
As Sheriff, I would implement the Public Health Model for Corrections in our jails. This model, inspired by the Hampton County, MA, Correctional Center, works by partnering with community health centers and the State Department of Public Health to bring in physicians and social workers who are dually based (they work both within the jail and the community healthcare centers). Inmates are assigned both a physician and a caseworker. Physicians and caseworkers are assigned based on an inmate's home zip code when feasible, thus facilitating or "linking" inmates to continuity of care upon release. The result is that inmates receive quality and consistent care both under the custody of the state and upon re-entry that is specific to their medical and financial needs. The societal benefits of the Public Health Model ranges from reduction in the spread of disease, early identification and treatment of disease, a decline in high-risk behavior, and also results in financial savings through the timely treatment of disease.
To be a dedicated advocate for crime reduction and safer communities, one must necessarily be a champion for living wages in low-skill positions. Studies show that the impact of wages on crime is substantial. Higher wages for low-skilled workers significantly reduce both property and violent crimes, as well as crime among adolescents. The 2002 study “Crime Reports and Local Labor Market Opportunities in the United States,” conducted by Gould, Weinberg, and Mustard, concludes that a ten percent increase in wages for non-college-educated men results in approximately a ten to twenty percent reduction in crime. An increase in wages within the labor market would also lead to a societal financial benefit of $8 billion to $17 billion.
As Sheriff, not only will I use my platform to advocate for higher wages in the labor market, but I will also develop and implement policies and programs to effectuate real and immediate changes within the jails. Programs like jail-based American Job Centers (AJC’s) with direct links to community-based American Job Centers upon release. The implementation of ACJ’s, available to people in jail, will help prepare individuals for employment before their release and then facilitate “hand-off” or transfer services to community-based ACJ’s. Implementing policies and programs like ACJ’s will not only help eliminate barriers to success for formerly incarcerated individuals, but they also work to reduce crime and recidivism, and over time yield a high financial return on investment to the community at large.
Clean and safe environment:
The Sheriff’s office is one of the most visible and powerful agencies of the local government. As an office that holds such authority, the Sheriff’s office should implement environmentally friendly practices, like Drug Drop programs, which provide environmentally friendly ways to dispose of medications. Proper disposal of prescriptions and over the counter substances is important. Flushing them down the toilet or sink can introduce dangerous and environmentally damaging substances into the water system; throwing them away in the trash can also introduce them into the environment, and runs the risk of them winding up in the wrong hands.
Immigration reform/pathway to citizenship:
As Sheriff, I will stop all voluntary ICE cooperation programs local Sheriff’s office was not created to be an arm of the Federal Government. Additionally, studies and data show us that the coordination with ICE agents has a counterproductive effect on public safety. If undocumented immigrants become victims of crime, the fear of being deported by create a chilling effect and discourages victims to come forward and report their crimes, leaving actual criminals free to commit further crimes, which put the community at large at risk.
Additionally, I will work to build partnerships with immigration attorneys who are willing to offer pro-bono services to both documented and undocumented immigrants that have been sentenced to jail time but do not face deportation consequences, in an effort to assist pathways to citizenship.
Inclusive democracy, such as supporting and engaging marginalized communities:
Jails are filled with people eligible to vote but not given sufficient access to the ballot. I will aim to put a polling place in the jail, and ensure that all eligible people in the jail can register to vote and participate in their democracy. I will also ensure that the Sheriff’s office ends the excessive use of force, which inevitably has frayed trust with marginalized communities. That will include body cameras, reforming the use of tasers.
Access to sexual and reproductive health care:
In addition to the implementation of the Public Health Model I set forth above, I believe in preserving the dignity and respect of individuals sexual and reproductive health by ensuring those services are made available to them through the Public Health partnerships. I will make sure that transgender people in the jail are assigned to space that accords with their preferences, and that women have access to sanitary supplies.
High-quality education means having a school where black and brown kids won’t be criminalized, and where teachers won’t be armed.
Data shows that people who have a high school diploma are much less likely to land back in jail. Additionally, studies show that higher education reduces recidivism, changes lives, and builds stronger communities. We must give incarcerated juveniles and adults meaningful opportunities to continue their high school education and earn their G.E.D.’s, setting them up for success in the workforce, vocational training, or college education. This means working in tandem with an assigned social worker to ensure people in jail have access to high school completion programs, G.E.D. Testing preparation, G.E.D. Completion programs and basic adult education classes both while serving time in the jail and upon release. Furthermore, as Sheriff, I would work to budget for and partner with community colleges to provide higher education opportunities inside the county jail for people who have received their high school diploma or G.E.D.