Providing an Environment for Change

Bob Garvey just might be the best sheriff in the nation.

On the rounds with the head of the Hampshire County jail as he prepares to turn in his badge.

“People come here as punishment,” Garvey says. “Not for punishment.” It’s an attitude that, over the years, has flown in the face of national movements to either permanently warehouse offenders (Three Strikes) or make jails so unpleasant, the theory goes, that nobody would ever want to return. Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, has housed his prisoners in tents that reached 135 degrees, cut their meals to two per day, and reinstituted chain gangs.

Garvey and others argue that traumatizing inmates just makes them angrier and more dangerous to their community when they get out. “They used to think that punishment was cleansing,” Andrea Cabral, former Massachusetts secretary of public safety, said in 2014. “We now know that’s not how humans actually work.”

“We’re trying to correct behavioral shortcomings, and to do that, first we have to provide an environment for change,” Garvey says.

Click here to continue reading this article by Nathaniel Reade in the Boston Globe Magazine.