Sheriff Hodgson wants inmates to help with TX disaster relief

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The sheriff in Bristol County wants to help with disaster relief by sending inmates to help rebuild the Gulf Coast.

Sheriff Tom Hodgson tells ABC6 News ten inmates have already stepped forward. "This is a concept, I think, that allows for everybody who has the ability in our country that can lend a hand to do so," said Hodgson.

He calls it a win-win, both for the community and the prisoners’ eventually rehabilitation into society. "It’s a way to save taxpayers money, give [the inmates] a chance to get to be rehabilitated, and everybody wins."

Hodgson is encouraging other sheriffs to consider this move. It’s all part of his Project NICE (National Inmate Community Endeavors), a collaboration between Sheriff’s Offices across the country in which inmate volunteer workers would undertake national infrastructure projects and assist in relief efforts from natural disasters.

But Hodgson will need to jump through many legal hoops for it to happen.

In May, the Massachusetts House voted to prevent inmate labor beyond state lines. The bill has been forwarded to a Senate committee.

Plus, federal agencies would need to be on-board.

Hodgson has the support of the National Sheriffs’ Association:

America’s sheriffs are innovative problem solvers. We tackle the toughest problems. Sheriff Hodgson is a valuable example of that.

There’s a lot heavy bureaucratic lifts and challenges to make this happen. In historically difficult times like today all ideas are welcome.

–       Jonathan Thompson, executive director, National Sheriffs’ Association

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