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Prisoner Education Guide

Massachusetts Sheriff Offers Prisoner Labor to Build Trump’s Border Wall

A Massachusetts sheriff made a personal offer to President Donald Trump shortly before Inauguration Day that drew swift condemnation from civil rights advocates. On January 5, 2017, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, a Republican, announced that he would make county prisoners available to build Trump’s promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hodgson, who made the controversial offer shortly after being sworn in to a fourth term as sheriff, didn’t say who would pay for the transportation, housing and security needed to carry out his proposal. Trump has repeatedly stated a border wall would be paid for by Mexico.

Laura Rótolo, staff counsel with the ACLU of Massachusetts, said Sheriff Hodgson’s suggestion was “perverse.” She added, “It’s inhumane, and it’s most likely unconstitutional. It’s also likely an attempt by Sheriff Hodgson just to ride this wave and become famous nationally.... If Sheriff Hodgson follows through on this gimmick, the ACLU of Massachusetts is prepared to use every tool in our toolbox, including litigation, to stop him.”

In a statement, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, criticized Hodgson’s offer. “This proposal has no basis in law or, frankly, common sense,” she said. “Our sheriffs have led the nation in developing innovative models for successful rehabilitation and reentry. I hope this political stunt is quickly dismissed and forgotten.”



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