Grace Sweeney-Maurer, Democratic candidate
Campaign Facebook Page: facebook.com/Grace-for-Sheriff-of-El-Paso-County-218563775543666/
Education: University of Illinois at Springfield: bachelor's degree in criminal justice
Experience: Honolulu Police Department training division facilitator; U.S. Department of Justice employee; Sangamon County Sheriff's Office citizen police academy; Allegheny County crime lab
What's the best way to deal with overcrowding at the El Paso County jail?
Overcrowding in jails is a problem nationwide. There are several long-term solutions to consider when addressing overcrowding, but very few short-term solutions. One short-term solution to deal with overcrowding at the El Paso County jail is to reduce the mentally ill population within the jail. Though the staff at the jail do a fine job, they are not mental health experts and they are there to control the environment in the jail. Mental illness is complex and is difficult to diagnosis, therefore, this population should be managed outside of the jail. Sheriff Elder recently announced an initiative where the El Paso County Sheriff's Office partnered with a local hospital and mental health professionals to address the needs of these individuals and reduce their incarcerations. Other short-term solutions could include: the transfer of federal detainees to a federal facility within 48 hours; working with the courts and prosecutors to find alternative sentences, as opposed to incarceration for some individuals.
Should the Sheriff's Office play a role in enforcing federal immigration law? Explain.
Law enforcement agencies typically work together and at times there are jurisdictional overlaps. The primary responsibility of the Sheriff's Office is to enforce state and local laws. If a deputy detains and arrests an individual for committing a crime, there should be procedures in place to check whether the individual is wanted by other agencies or for other reasons. If there is a federal agency that wants someone detained, then that agency should transfer the detainee to a federal facility within 48 hours. The citizens of El Paso County should not be burden with the costs of lawsuits, the costs of overcrowding in the jail, or the cost of overtime for staff to maintain a safe environment for detainees. Furthermore, El Paso County should not become the next Maricopa County. All people need to feel comfortable reporting crime and asking for assistance.
Do you believe the medical and recreational marijuana markets are creating a problem with illegal grow operations in the county? If so, how can the Sheriff's Office help address that problem?
Illegal marijuana operations had been in existence prior to the legalization of medical and recreation marijuana in Colorado and more than likely will continue to be an issue. The Sheriff's Office can address this problem by increasing the number of raids on illegal grow sites and partnering with the community to seek out the sites, destroy the plants, and arrest the growers.