There are about a dozen and a half proposed House amendments to the FY2020 budget that apply to county sheriffs.
Many of them seem to be questionable giveaways — especially since it’s almost impossible to discover what assets Massachusetts sheriffs have or what they do with all the money they are given. These budget amendments ask for some pretty hefty bumps in allocations for the 14 sheriffs. For example,
- Rep. Kimberley Ferguson wants to bump up one line item to the Worcester County Sheriff’s office by $7 million.
- Rep. Linda Dean Campbell is all set to do the same, to the tune of $18 million.
- Rep. Elizabeth Poirier wants to give the Bristol County sheriff an extra $10 million.
- Rep. David Vieira wants to give the Barnstable County sheriff an extra $1.2 million.
- Rep. Daniel Carey is all set to give the Hampshire County sheriff $2 million more in walkabout money.
- Rep. Bradley Jones is proposing the establishment of a statewide reserve for all 14 sheriffs which will increase state spending on jails by $12 million to $691 million — this at a time that the prison population is actually shrinking.
Don’t we have other things we could spend this obscene amount of money on?
Given the secrecy around sheriff budgets, the long history of mendacity and abuse, and the inability of citizens to file information requests for information sheriffs provide the legislature, there’s no way of knowing how the legislature decides what amounts to bump up each year. The process may be a bit more nuanced than this, but it seems to boil down to “here, sheriff, have some more money!“