Clearing The Air

I would like to take this opportunity to clear the air and set the record straight. I have made it very clear from the beginning of my campaign for Sheriff of Waldo County that I have no intention of shutting down the Re-Entry Center. I have heard from too many people that this rumor is being spread to gain support and discredit my candidacy. I can assure you that rumor is completely FALSE.

The concept goals of the Re-Entry Center are not lost on me. It is a good program in many ways, but the public must be afforded information of all its aspects, good and bad, including the monetary cost to our community and its effect on the general security of our citizens. I will admit that over the past few years I have said that as soon as I was eligible for retirement that I would run for Sheriff and shut down the Re-Entry Center. These comments were made out of sheer frustration, having seen our citizens be negatively affected by members of the program—members that have no connections to our geographic area other than the re-entry center.

I know that we have too much invested to ever consider abandoning it, and there are definitely some great success stories. My desire when elected is to tighten the ship, so to speak.

As Sheriff, I will begin by improving the monitoring of inmates by first developing and implementing a zero-tolerance drug testing policy. One inmate drug overdose death in our community is simply one too many.

I will work to improve the current vetting system for candidates by giving priority to low level offenders from Waldo County. Candidates for the Re-Entry Center in Waldo County will be required to have some connection to our community before being selected.

As Sheriff, no longer will inmates be accepted directly as part of a sentence. Offender‘s WILL be required to serve a state sentence for an extended time, and the decision on to accept a candidate into the program will be made at a much later date. I do not feel that someone who has just been convicted of a crime should just be “re-entered” into society shortly after court. There must be some accountability for their actions.

I was told by a former Re-Entry participant that he did not feel he needed to be “re-entered” in to society after spending six months in jail. I was also told by this same person that the “word” in prison is to do or say whatever you need to in order to get in to the Re-Entry Center program in Belfast because it’s easy time. I want to make sure the people in the program truly want to improve their life.

As Sheriff, I will not risk one more citizen of Waldo County becoming a victim or losing their life-long sense of security in their own home just to fill another bed at the Re-Entry Center.

I feel that the garden project is doing some very positive things and that it should continue donating to food pantries and feed the inmates. I have concerns about the costs and where the money comes from to pay for tractors, equipment, and the construction of buildings, to name a few...

This garden project seems to be evaluated on the tons of produce it turns out. The goal should be to help make productive, contributing members of society from people who have struggled to make the right choices in life.

As Sheriff, I will promote the introduction of trade skills that inmates can learn while incarcerated such as electrical, plumbing, welding, and hands- on trades that can help them become gainfully employed once they complete the program.

As Sheriff, I will work hard every day to make the process safer for the citizens and the communities of Waldo County. That includes making the process better for inmates who want to improve their lives.

I have spent my entire adult life as a police officer trying to help people, solve crimes committed against them, and when needed, I have put myself in harm’s way to protect them. My concerns regarding the Re-Entry Center are only about you remaining content and safe in your community. The way life should be.

Respectfully,

John D. Gibbs
Non-Party Candidate for Sheriff of Waldo County

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