Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond has announced he will seek a third term in office.
The Republican sheriff first took office in August 2008 for a two-year term after former Sheriff Billy Long pleaded guilty to extortion, money laundering and drug charges.
On top of managing the state's fourth-largest law enforcement agency, Hammond said the two largest focus areas for his office will be the transition and completion of the Hamilton County jail system and shrinking incarceration numbers for the mentally ill.
"It is no secret that jail overcrowding is at epidemic levels across the country," Hammond said. "My goal is to eventually consolidate all prisoners at the Silverdale site where there is plenty of room for growth and expansion."
Hammond said he believes the daily cost to house inmates will be "dramatically reduced" by getting all the inmates in one place at Silverdale.
The sheriff said he seeks partnerships with local and state officials, mental health agencies, hospitals, health care organizations, the court system and other community stakeholders to find better ways to take care of the homeless and mentally ill who wind up in jail.
Often, 40 percent or more of the county's inmates are taking psychotropic medications, he said.
"As part of my strategic management planning, we intend to make a very thorough inspection and evaluation of all that is being done with the mentally ill, veterans and the homeless who are incarcerated and how we intend to pursue and curtail this," Hammond said. "We owe it to those who are our most vulnerable, and we need to get them the help they need instead of criminalizing their conditions. We owe it to the citizens of Hamilton County to be efficient stewards of their tax dollars."
The Hamilton County primary elections will be held on May 1, 2018.
Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.