SPRINGFIELD – Jack Griffin readily admits he doesn’t know much about politics, but he has had a lengthy career in correction, which is motivating his run for Hampden County Sheriff.
Griffin has been campaigning for about five months and will have the official kickoff of his campaign on March 11, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Springfield Elks Lodge on Tiffany Street.
Griffin called his campaign “grassroots,” but said it is attracting both supporters and contributions.
A resident of Springfield, he is retired from a career of more than 20 years in corrections in Connecticut. He explained that during his career he worked in various facilities ranging from high security to pre-release programs, but his main emphasis was on substance abuse and alcohol programs.
He called his interest in corrections his “life’s calling.”
Griffin added, “I’m not a politician. I’m a guy with a lot of passion. I bring expertise and a fresh set of eyes.”
He added, “The political aspects are new to me. I will stay with my core beliefs.”
While he applauds the work done by Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe Jr., Griffin said he wants to improve what’s already in place.
“He [Ashe] has done one hell of a job going from the archaic York Street Jail to what it is today,” he said.
He would bring a “totally different perspective from a totally different experience.” He likened his career in state facilities as being in the “majors” as compared to a county jail.
What concerns Griffin, though, is the level of accountability inmates at the Hampden County House of Corrections take for their own action. He noted that about 80 percent of the Hampden County inmates have some sort of substance abuse problem.
He wants the inmates with addiction issues to be “held accountable.”
Corrections is not simply a case of locking people up, he said.
He also spoke of the lack of necessary staffing at the jail, citing the recent escape of an incoming inmate as an example of “redirecting staff to other duties.”
He noted, “Frontline correctional officers are key to the institution.”
Griffin added, “People [staff members] are saying they can’t do their jobs.”
Griffin wrote on his Facebook page about the role of the correctional officer, “I know who you are! You want to leave work to get to your kid’s ballgame, but the fight in the dorm you responded to 10 minutes before shift change made you have to complete reports for an hour and a half! (Do it over you spelled a word wrong.) Sometimes you feel when you go to work, you might not be coming home. You work alone at times, keeping the peace of men and women who don't want to be there! You raise a family on a paycheck that isn’t a tenth of what you’re really worth! (At times you assume the role of ma, dad, social worker, doctor, priest, etc.) I see your frustration. I know your character! You have my respect! One of the hardest professions in the world, a correctional officer!”
He believes he can fulfill the job of sheriff better than the two announced candidates, Nick Cocchi and James Gill, both of whom work at the jail.
“It’s time for changing of the guard,” Griffin said.
His Facebook page is www.facebook.com/JackGriffin4Sheriff2016.