Bristol County Jail in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts is undergoing an unprecedented crisis. Inmates in the institution are committing suicide in record numbers. Lawsuits are piling up as grieving families seek answers and accountability. For many, the buck stops with one man: Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, a tough as nails law enforcer who is the longest serving sheriff in the state. "American Sheriff" exposes Hodgson's apathetic response to the suicide epidemic, and the aggressive tactics that made it possible.
There are more than 3,000 sheriffs in the United States, and in many instances they operate with complete autonomy. Such is the case with Hodgson, who has worked feverishly to implement stricter regulations on county inmates.
Taking away privileges such as television, weightlifting or an abundance of food might seem benign to some, but other reforms that endanger basic human comforts and health are drawing a considerable amount of ire among critics. Operating well above capacity, the inmates exist in crammed environments. Many of them are forced to sleep on the floor. Even more egregious is the treatment of the mentally ill population. These inmates are often deprived of their medications and placed in solitary confinement, a punishment that only exacerbates their fragile mental state. Cries for help frequently go unheeded.
What's happening in Bristol County is not an anomaly. In a system devoid of checks and balances, a culture of abuse and mismanagement has been allowed to fester in many communities across the country. The filmmakers witness this firsthand as they travel to New Iberia, Louisiana. There, the sheriff and his deputies appear to operate with absolute impunity. According to many of the film's most persuasive interview subjects, their abuses are motivated in large part by racial animus, and expressed through bursts of extreme physical violence, deplorable living conditions, and sadistic exercises designed to humiliate and degrade.
Our elected law enforcement officials are not above the law themselves, yet many feel empowered to behave as though they are. By shining a light on their misconduct, "American Sheriff" encourages voting citizens to implement a little reform of their own when they arrive at the ballot box.
Directed by: Lucy Kennedy
Some guards like to torture and mess with the inmates. I witnessed this myself working as a correctional officer. They would not allow me to submit an official report, and I was fired! Legal help was blocked. Several times afterward, orchestrated unlawful attacks were carried out.
Don't like the treatment.....don't commit crimes. See I don't have to worry about the "man" treating me inhumane.....I don't do anything to go to jail. I am an ex addict who went to jail once and never went again. Got clean cause I didn't like jail. You ain't supposed to. An no it's not cause I am a priveliged cracker either. Jeez. These people just want payout.
A good documentary overall. 2nd half of documentary a bit theatric. I won't get into politics of being in jail or prison. Full disclosure; I was held in North Dartmouth for pretrial. My observation is that the sheriff is an egotistical narcissist. He shows no quarter, his daughter is an addict and has been locked up there. The facts are the jail contracts out everything from food, medical and psych services, tooth removal dental services only and no detox services whatsoever. You get tossed in a cell and suffer, if it's booze, maybe a librium. It's overcrowded by almost 200%. Almost all inmates don't get educational services, as they don't exist, a small % take GED classes. Earning goodtime is very hard, as place is so overcrowded and no services. Wood work shop closed, same for sheetmetal shop and printing shop. No gym, triple bunked beds fill the gym. To get a book takes weeks. I could go on but will end with this as people die needlessly and people don't care. I was there and this guy age got detained over a domestic matter. HE was a short pudgy good natured guy who worked hard and owned his home, he had 1 son, not a hardcore criminal gangbanger. Well, he was served with a restraining order and divorce paperwork back to back. He was freaking out and guards were told he wasn't stable mentally and should be under observation. Sadly, this poor bastard hung himself and a small riot occurred. He died in 2012. Something needs to be done, internal investigations are a sham.
Where's the follow up to this video so we can see what has been done to remove this sadistic psychopath and redress these problems?
I hate videos like this: they expose some serious issue(s) that need to be dealt with, but then NEVER follow up...Why not?
Those of us watching (esp. people who DON'T live in the USA - like myself) would really like to see how this situation is resolved.
It's May 2019; can we please have an update?
People make mistakes in life, but that doesn't mean we should treat them like Animals!
I hope hell awaits this sheriff.
I cannot say that I am surprised behind the cruel, inhumane, animalistic treatment of these prisoners. Imagine the beatings we don't know about!
Good doc! I really feel sorry for americans in prison. What you have over there is sick. when you go to prison in the nordic countries in europe you are only losing your freedom and nothing else. Computer, tv, games for your cell, 3 meals a day, education if you want it or a job, if you wish to work out all day you can do that too. Trowing people in isolation and 23h a day without seeing anyone or worse this suicide watch thing from the documentary. Its strange that america has such absurd prison rules when most of your rules are considered illegal and harmful by the rest of the west.
I was on suicide watch in a jail sixteen years ago. Going raw vegan and urine therapy saved my life.
I lived in Massachusetts. Sheriff Hodgson is a good Sheriff. This is a leftist viewpoint which always looks at the victim angle. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. Sorry but jail is not supposed to be a country club. The prospect of jail time is what keeps me as a law abiding citizen. If others can't see that, then they deserve what they get.
When we incarcerate a person, we have a duty of care over that person and this means every area of their life. It is a hospital, school, family and Church
Absolutely right Kyle
...I think I will have to watch it then, Kyle and Jim...thanks...
The goal is not to go to jail or prison. Incarceration isn't supposed to be a hospital or a hotel.
Hint: Jail and prison are not substitutes for the Waldorf Astoria.
The sheriffs highlighted in this film are sick puppies - especially the Louisiana one.
So tired of the b.s. "tough on crime" rhetoric and most people's complacency about abuses of prisoners.
People have NO idea how corrupt the criminal justice system is, how it's not about justice at all, and how many innocent people and minor offenders are railroaded and brutalized by it.
Police forces have been co-opted by those holding real power, who have perverted these institutions so that instead of protecting the public, they keep the public in line and in fear for the benefit the tiny few.
this guy hates people in general Shariff Tom Hodgson. i can understand removing the smoking cuz inmates with fire can be catastrophic, but taking away current psychiatric medication without proper medical intervention is just wrong. Most of them are addictive and cause serious issues, long term/chronic included if not properly taken off with a doctor's advice.