On this episode, Professor Mirya Holman and I discuss the powerful role of the Sheriff in U.S. culture and politics. We talk about immigration, constraints on police administrators, the future of elected law enforcement officials, and the role of sheriffs in managing Covid-19 and ending mass incarceration.
Professor Holman’s research interests focus on women and politics, local politics, research methods, and environmental politics. Their book, Women in Politics in the American City (Temple University Press) examines the effect of the female mayors and city council members on urban politics. Currently they are researching gender and political ambition, how local politics change when cities encounter financial distresses, the role of religious beliefs in political attitudes and actions, gender and the 2016 election, and the pathways to political office. Holman is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. https://liberalarts.tulane.edu/departments/political-science/people/mirya-holman
Tom Baker has been a PhD student in UMSL's Criminology and Criminal Justice program since 2017. Tom received his BA in Political Science from Arizona State University and worked as a police officer for approximately nine years. His research interests include police culture, use of force, and qualitative research methods. https://www.umsl.edu/ccj/Graduate%20Students/baker.html
Kurtz, D. L., & Upton, L. L. (2018). The gender in stories: How war stories and police narratives shape masculine police culture. Women & criminal justice, 28(4), 282-300.
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Tom Baker: So thanks again for for joining me today. Can you just so everyone knows who you are. Can you just tell us your name, where you work, and what it is that you study
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Mirya Holman: Oh yeah. My name is Miriam woman I'm an associate professor of political science at Tulane University and I study gender and politics local politics state level politics. I often investigate questions around representation in policymaking
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Tom Baker: Okay. And where are you right now we're in the world are you right now.
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Mirya Holman: I'm in in New Orleans in my house in New Orleans.
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Tom Baker: Okay, so you didn't. You didn't get out of town I cuz I know you guys were one of the hot spots.
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Mirya Holman: Yes, we are. But no, I'm, I'm still here. I always been I distancing it home for eight weeks now.
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Tom Baker: We're, we're about the same. We were we've been locked down here for about eight weeks, and we were actually in New Orleans right before that for a conference so
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Tom Baker: Love, love, love New Orleans.
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Tom Baker: New Orleans.
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Mirya Holman: Now I'm actually from rural Southern Oregon.
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Mirya Holman: About as far away from Portland as you can get in Oregon southwest corner of the state.
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Tom Baker: Okay. And where did you go to school, where'd you go
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Mirya Holman: I went to undergrad at Loyola here in New Orleans and then grad school at Claremont in Southern California.
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Tom Baker: And what was it that brought you like, what, what are you from rural Oregon to Louisiana.
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Mirya Holman: Well, I
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Mirya Holman: Very much was interested in going someplace warm
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Mirya Holman: By
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Mirya Holman: my junior year of high school age range every day from mid November to mid April and just everything was wet and cold all the time. And I was like, I just want to be someplace where it's not cold all the time.
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Mirya Holman: And then someplace that was relatively far away for further than an easy day and strive so
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Mirya Holman: Okay, so basically the south and I checked out a couple of places in the south and I really liked New Orleans and loyal. It was a nice fit for me in terms of coming from a very small town. It was a pretty it felt like a comfortable location.
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Tom Baker: Okay, and I can, I can definitely sympathize with the rain I we lived in Washington State. And it was like 93 days in a row or some crazy number
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Mirya Holman: To get to right like it wears on you after a while.
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Tom Baker: Definitely. So it's a big, big chance to New Orleans and and so so that's how you ended up in Louisiana. What sort of led you into studying what you study. Was there a particular incident or experience or something about your
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Tom Baker: Study
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Mirya Holman: So actually, it's a story set in New Orleans. Also, I had met Emily.
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Mirya Holman: Conference at the southern Political Science Association conference here and
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Mirya Holman: We were chatting about potentially collaborating on some research, trying to figure out what we could maybe work on. We were both really interested in local politics but
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Mirya Holman: We're we were really interested, both of us coming from more rural areas, she grew up in rural Alabama. I grew up in rural Oregon of thinking about sort of local politics within the rural context.
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Mirya Holman: And so we thought, well, like let's just see what people have studied about sheriff's because we know growing up in a rural place that
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Mirya Holman: They are really important policymakers and maybe there is an opportunity to do some research on them.
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Mirya Holman: And then as we started to do sort of a basic literature review were like, oh, actually, there's a lot of opportunity to do research on chairs because political scientists basically have not done research on sheriff's
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Mirya Holman: So we started started from the perspective of we wanted to understand local politics in rural America. And then from there, started to think about what a project about sheriff's would look like. And then it has sort of taken a life of its own. As we did more and more research on it.
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Tom Baker: And I appreciate being with people I think underestimate how influential a sheriff can be one of the things that drew me to read your guys's piece and to have an interest in this was working
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Tom Baker: In a jurisdiction. I worked in Phoenix Phoenix police department. So my whenever I booked someone into jail when I was a police officer. It was just with Sheriff Joe Arpaio knows jail and you can
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Tom Baker: Living and living in that community for an extended period of time, you realize how
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Tom Baker: Much power and influence this one individual had and this this sort of differences that exists between police organizations that are run by an elected official and one that's run by sort of like a professional cowdray of appointed professionals.
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Tom Baker: So it's definitely definitely ripe for exploration, that's for sure.
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Tom Baker: So we're gonna we're also going to talk a little bit about immigration today and in the in the article you guys sort of layouts.
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Tom Baker: There's this these changes that took place he focused primarily on like post World War America and these changes and immigration, can you just sort of just to frame things to give us
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Tom Baker: An idea of how to set things up. What, what, what did that look like. So you have the end of the war, and then you have these changes that you can just walk us through the set this up a little bit.
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Mirya Holman: Sure, yeah. So we have a couple of concurrent changes that occur and later half of the 20th century, they become very important for thinking about immigration enforcement.
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Mirya Holman: So the first one is that we have a series of major national pieces of legislation that are passed that fiddle with the idea of who gets to be
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Mirya Holman: A document and versus undocumented immigrants in the United States and push undocumented immigration from a
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Mirya Holman: Clearly civil violation more into a criminal violation. So for very long time if you got in trouble.
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Mirya Holman: For some kind of immigration violation that was, in essence, not a criminal problem. It wasn't handled by regular law enforcement. It was not the
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Mirya Holman: Under under any kind of evaluation of regular law enforcement. This was handled primarily by earlier iterations of Customs and Border Patrol or the INS
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Mirya Holman: And it was not something where you're going to go to jail for that problem in itself.
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Mirya Holman: But in the latter half of the 20th century, we start to see changes in federal laws and, in particular, changes in
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Mirya Holman: A much more criminalized and tighter definition of what an undocumented immigrant is in the United States. So we have this shift that sort of creates this class of undocumented immigrants, they existed before. And certainly before the federal government.
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Mirya Holman: Treated undocumented immigrants very poorly, we could think about, for example, Chinese workers in the late 1800s and early 1900s of falling into this
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Mirya Holman: We think about Japanese internment camps as falling into the federal government treating immigrants or even the descendants of immigrants very poorly, but in the post.
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Mirya Holman: 19 post World War Two era we sort of start to get this much more clearly defined group of what it means to be an undocumented immigrants in the United States.
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Mirya Holman: And then we start to think about what it would take to potentially I decrease the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States. So we have
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Mirya Holman: This policy efforts, particularly aimed at trying to identify people that are in the country illegally and then get them out of the country and
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Mirya Holman: It turns out that that's actually a really hard thing to do.
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Mirya Holman: It's really difficult to identify who's in the country without a appropriate papers. It's really difficult to find them. It's very difficult to remove them. So
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Mirya Holman: I, at this point, the federal government is interested in removing undocumented immigrants, but doesn't actually really have the enforcement capacity to do it. And so we start to get the growth of various federal agencies interested in the enforcement of identifying undocumented immigrants.
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Tom Baker: So I know this is this is something that's relatively new like control controlling who is in a certain geographic to this to this extent I know
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Tom Baker: Yes, it's always something that's something that's been done but the the degree of control and
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Tom Baker: Identifying who is where and when i mean it's it's it's grown. I know I'm my family is from a very small community of border community in Canada, where the people for generations and generations were moving back and forth across the border, they would move seasonally Fisher fisherman.
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Tom Baker: So they would live in Massachusetts, depending on during one part of the year. And then in Canada. Another part of the year and it wasn't something that the government was
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Tom Baker: heavily involved with. And then over time you have more and more of an infrastructure, put in place to document, who should be where and then these efforts to to to control it. What. So you see this this apparatus is
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Tom Baker: Is growing and evolving and becoming more and more complicated, more, more complex in the 20th century. What do you think was driving that. So what is. So what are the political
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Tom Baker: incentives that drive because you need to be see Congress heavily involved and passing this legislation and creating these institutions, what, and I know this might this might be a tough question to answer. But what what do you think is driving that.
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Mirya Holman: Also there are sort of um Zena phobic reasons for creating a more secure border and
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Mirya Holman: Engaging more and in the effort to understand who is American and who is not right. So,
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Mirya Holman: If we think that there's something distinctive about being an American, that means then that you have to start policing the boundaries of who gets to call themselves American or not.
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Mirya Holman: As a part of that we meet them need to start thinking about the borders and protecting the borders, so that we know that people that are inside the borders are American and people that are outside the borders or not. We also have
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Mirya Holman: These shifts in sort of the power of the agricultural industry in the United States.
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Mirya Holman: To some extent, the agricultural industry maintains its political power in this country.
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Mirya Holman: By having a group of undocumented workers that that are its chief employees and that if you have documented workers, then you need to pay them more and you need to treat them with more respect and they're not as
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Mirya Holman: Disposable
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Mirya Holman: And so there was a significant pressure by the agricultural industry to sort of think about what it would mean to
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Mirya Holman: Read redo our immigration laws to, to the extent to which it could create a particular worker class that was largely made up of undocumented individuals often people think, oh no, the agricultural industry would love it if there was an open border and that would make everything better.
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Mirya Holman: But if you
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Mirya Holman: Take away sort of the security of undocumented workers lives, it makes it much more difficult to
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Tom Baker: Work.
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Mirya Holman: With them. Yes, so that's that's a component to it, but we also seen this in, I think, you know, Donald Trump's
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Mirya Holman: 2016 presidential campaign illustrates this that it becomes easier to it be that undocumented immigrants become an easy foil for political campaigns that they are somehow the enemy.
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Mirya Holman: And it's a group that can't can't legally sort of speak up for itself. So there is no pushback against it. And so it's a very easy group to sort of
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Mirya Holman: To create an other out of and say that they are the boogeyman, they're the ones that are taking your jobs.
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Mirya Holman: Or they're the ones that are invading our communities or they're the ones that are bringing drugs or crime or whatever, without having to
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Mirya Holman: Confront as a as a political candidate anything associated with like actually identifying a group that's bad. And then having to face them.
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Mirya Holman: And say why they're about, um, so I think that there's there's political reasons for this, there's cultural reasons there's economic reasons, all of them sort of are woven together to create an environment where
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Mirya Holman: We think about undocumented immigrants primarily being
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Mirya Holman: From Mexico and Central and South America. But the reality is that most undocumented, the largest share of undocumented immigrants in the United States right now are from Asia. They're not from on
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Mirya Holman: Central and South America. We but we have this image in our mind and part of why we have that image is that that was a very useful group politically to say as to identify as the potential enemy.
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Tom Baker: Figure out the
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Tom Baker: Ultra cultural reason. So like, it's how we define who we are as this imagined community based on who and we let in. What types of people what they
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Tom Baker: Look like sound like behave as part of defining who we are as a culture of the pure sort of economic incentives, you know,
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Tom Baker: Pool of labor that can be exploited for certain by certain institutions and then you also have this political component. I think probably a lot to do with the industrialization and the acts.
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Tom Baker: As a lot of people feel if you can say it's these people's fault, that's very useful politically. So, this, this, this makes a ton of sense and
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Tom Baker: Then you have sort of like post 911 mid 2000s, you have this change where prior to this, you have a very active Congress that's
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Tom Baker: Shaping creative writing laws.
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Tom Baker: An active and engaged and then you have what you guys refer to as like an immigration federalism sort of pics. Can you talk a little bit about this this transition, how it takes this when it takes place.
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Mirya Holman: Yeah. So we have a couple of major events that happened in the 2000s, that are become really important for immigration enforcement. You mentioned that on
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Mirya Holman: 911 happens obviously 911 is important and important political event on its own, but it's particularly important when we think about immigration enforcement because I that
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Mirya Holman: To terrorists on the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center, were I immigrants that had overstayed their visas.
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Mirya Holman: They have overstayed their student visas and so as a result, they were in this country when they were undocumented immigrants in this country and
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Mirya Holman: All of a sudden there becomes this really big interest in trying to identify undocumented immigrants in this country.
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Mirya Holman: Because they might potentially be terrorists. Right. So there is this up as kingdom would say, I'd like a window of opportunity opens up to think about a much more aggressive enforcement of immigration policy in the United States.
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Mirya Holman: And so it's not necessarily that we see dramatic changes in the underlying policy structure is just that it becomes much easier to actually enforce the policies that are already in place.
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Mirya Holman: So there's two policies that emerge out of this that really contribute to what Emily and I could call this immigration federalism. The first is the creation of a program called 287 G.
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Mirya Holman: And the second is the creation of a program called Secure Communities and so both of these are located entirely within the executive branch. So, these do not require active
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Mirya Holman: efforts by Congress, they are located within Customs and Border Patrol, and both of them are aimed at trying to get local law enforcement to participate actively in immigration enforcement in the United States.
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Mirya Holman: So within this context. Again, thinking back toward to us sort of one of the major shifts that happened in the late in the later half of the 20th century.
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Mirya Holman: The federal government would like to be really engaged in immigration enforcement.
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Mirya Holman: But it turns out it's really hard to do immigration enforcement. And in order for the federal government to really do immigration enforcement in the manner that it wants to.
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Mirya Holman: It wouldn't need to just a massive group of employees.
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Mirya Holman: far larger than it then say Customs and Border Patrol has now or ice has now even now when Customs and Border Patrol and ice or at the largest that they've ever been right so
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Mirya Holman: We would mean tripling or quadrupling the number of agents that work for Customs and Border Patrol, for example.
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Mirya Holman: So if you can't, if you're in the federal government and you can't enforce this policy yourself. You look around and think, well, who could enforce this policy for me.
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Mirya Holman: Well, local government could potentially enforce this policy for me and, in particular, local law enforcement could enforce this policy for me. And so they create these policies that are aimed in the case of
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Mirya Holman: At deputising local law enforcement and making them officially members of Customs and Border Patrol or ice.
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Mirya Holman: Or in the case of Secure Communities using the existing information infrastructure that exists that
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Mirya Holman: local jails rely on as a mechanism for immigration enforcement and in this circumstance we see in particular the single fingerprinting database of the federal government uses
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Mirya Holman: That local law enforcement accesses as a primary tool that the federal government uses to enforce immigration policy at the local level.
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Tom Baker: Okay, so
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Tom Baker: You're the study that you're going to tell us a little bit about
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Tom Baker: You guys conducted examining the way that
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Tom Baker: So what out of how sheriff's are going to what what what variables you expect might indicate whether or not a sheriff is or is not going to engage in these enforcement actions. Am I, am I sending services and you're talking about individual characteristics local demographic
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Tom Baker: Institutional characters. If you talk a little bit about the predictors, these, these things, these characteristics.
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Mirya Holman: Are the communities that they serve in
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Mirya Holman: Their offices and, in particular, the state level policies that exist on or federal policies that exist. So when we think about who sheriff's are
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Mirya Holman: We might think about some of their characteristics being important like we might expect for their race to matter. So
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Mirya Holman: You know theories of representation would suggest that maybe if you had a Latino Sheriff Sheriff would be more interested in a
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Mirya Holman: Compassionate immigration policy over a really punitive immigration policy, or you might expect that the sheriff partisanship might matter so
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Mirya Holman: We know that today, Democrats and Republicans in the general population have very different views about immigration on average. So we might also expect for that to apply for sheriff's
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Mirya Holman: Then after that, we looked at that we were particularly interested in is whether or not the sheriff's attitudes that they themselves hold about immigrants.
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Mirya Holman: then translate into policies that the sheriff's office puts into place. And here is one place where we think it's really important to think about sheriff's as as a unique office.
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Mirya Holman: Because sheriff's are both a bureaucratic employee, in some ways, right. They one thing that sheriff's do is they run jails.
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Mirya Holman: But they also engage in law enforcement that sort of the policy implementation of law enforcement, but they're also executives on because they're elected.
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Mirya Holman: And they sort of can't be told what to do by other local elected officials. They're in charge of their own offices.
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Mirya Holman: And so we might expect that executives attitudes about a particular group of people, for example, or type of policy might then translate into the actual policy that's put into place because they're both this executive of European bureaucrat at the same time.
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Mirya Holman: We also think that it might be that if you live in a community with a lot of
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Mirya Holman: Immigrants then either you engage in a lot of enforcement, are you engaging no enforcement. If you live in a liberal place that might shape.
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Mirya Holman: The type of enforcement that happens if you were close to the border that if you are a sheriff that represents a community close to the border.
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Mirya Holman: We also think that there are some institutional characteristics like the size of the sheriff's office that matters.
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Mirya Holman: This is again something that is really interesting was studying chess is that some of them have two employees and some of them have
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Mirya Holman: 20,000 employees, like the sheriff of Los Angeles County is I in charge of 45,000 individuals. Right. So there's an enormous amount of variation
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Mirya Holman: That probably affects the types of policies that an office has in place. Um, and so in that context we might expect, for example, that in a really a highly professional licensed office like the office that the sheriff of Los Angeles County, you have to be professionalized many employees.
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Tom Baker: Right, we
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Mirya Holman: Wouldn't necessarily expect, but the shares attitude matter so much because there's so many policies that are sort of in place.
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Mirya Holman: But in a smaller place where the sheriff gets to sort of set policy as he or she goes, I should say, actually, as he goes, because there are almost no women that are share us
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Mirya Holman: And then you might expect in that circumstance, the shares attitudes about immigrants or immigration policy more generally would be really important for affecting the policy outcomes.
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Tom Baker: So you talked about how like a maybe a larger, more professional sheriff's department with insulate would be like an insulating factor, preventing like these ideologies from spilling over and you talk a little bit about how
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Tom Baker: What the difference is with, like I say, like, where I worked. I worked for the Phoenix police department. And we know that the Sheriff's Department Sheriff Joe and our department was
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Tom Baker: The be advertised, hey, we don't care about your immigration status, call us. We want your future report crimes. We need you to be witnesses.
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Tom Baker: What role does like a city manager or a mayor or city council that is in charge of and you have a process where someone has a point. I know you've already sort of explained. It's this
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Tom Baker: This dual role that this person fills the share where they're both. Can you talk a little bit about that. How, how, by injecting because we think intuitively
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Tom Baker: People may think, oh, well, it's democratic, the people are selecting this person, whereas this is being appointed. Can you talk a little bit about how that works insulator.
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Mirya Holman: Sure, yeah. So, um, shares are almost universally elected. There are some exceptions. The state of Connecticut doesn't have because appointed sheriff's
00:25:23.850 --> 00:25:33.030
Mirya Holman: On Alaska and Hawaii don't have sheriff's because they don't have counties, essentially. And then there are a few places across the United States that have
00:25:33.660 --> 00:25:44.250
Mirya Holman: Appointed sheriff. But in general, sheriff's are elected. They were directly elected by the population by the county that they serve in and
00:25:45.480 --> 00:25:57.480
Mirya Holman: And theoretically, that means that there's accountability to the citizens, practically, though, there's really high incumbency rates for County Sheriff's
00:25:58.530 --> 00:26:18.630
Mirya Holman: There is low levels of political competition. So even when you don't have an incumbent necessarily running for reelection a pattern that you often see is the incumbents point anoints a successor, that is going to take over and that person then is elected without a lot of political competition.
00:26:20.550 --> 00:26:30.810
Mirya Holman: So theoretically, there is this mechanism that's in place that could serve as a check on a poorly behaving sheriff.
00:26:32.070 --> 00:26:36.330
Mirya Holman: We have not seen a lot of examples of
00:26:37.440 --> 00:26:47.250
Mirya Holman: The voting public being a check on a poorly behaving sheriff. So Joe Arpaio is a very good example of this.
00:26:48.270 --> 00:27:03.810
Mirya Holman: He was reelected several times, even in an environment where the public was sort of universally either disgusted by or ambivalent towards hit his policies that he had put into place and
00:27:04.470 --> 00:27:16.020
Mirya Holman: The reality is that most people don't have any idea who their Sheriff is and they pay no attention to the policies that their Sheriff is engaging in and certainly for a
00:27:16.890 --> 00:27:25.860
Mirya Holman: Person that is not sort of invested in questions about immigration policy, they wouldn't know or care about what a share of
00:27:26.280 --> 00:27:36.090
Mirya Holman: Views are about immigrants or the policies that they have been put in place to deal with documented or undocumented immigrants in in the population.
00:27:36.570 --> 00:27:46.950
Mirya Holman: So this exists in theory but the reality is that the the vote is very rarely a tool that's used to hold sheriff's accountable.
00:27:47.520 --> 00:28:02.760
Mirya Holman: In comparison to say an appointed police chief in that circumstance there. I'm not directly accountable to to the public, but they are accountable to a city manager and an elected city council and elected mayor who
00:28:03.540 --> 00:28:13.350
Mirya Holman: Are interested in there being effective crime policy in their city because they're worried that if crime gets out of control over if people have bad experiences with the police department, then
00:28:13.530 --> 00:28:24.150
Mirya Holman: They're going to hold the mayor and city council accountable for that, even if they're only sort of indirectly accountable for it. So in that circumstance you often see that
00:28:24.990 --> 00:28:33.900
Mirya Holman: Police Chiefs are their behaviors were regulated by the city manager or the city council and Mayor than
00:28:34.530 --> 00:28:46.770
Mirya Holman: Anything that we see on the sheriff side because there's, there isn't this sort of daily accountability, where a sheriff has to report into other people about why he's doing what he's doing.
00:28:48.750 --> 00:28:57.120
Tom Baker: Professional accountability. If you're you're accountable to somebody, whereas within an election, the accountability just, this is my
00:29:00.180 --> 00:29:10.830
Mirya Holman: Accountability via elections requires that you have an informed public that cares about the issues and is willing to make choices based on those issues.
00:29:10.920 --> 00:29:14.040
Tom Baker: Are you mean we would need to live in a functioning democracy for that to work.
00:29:14.100 --> 00:29:15.030
Mirya Holman: Theoretically, yes.
00:29:15.180 --> 00:29:16.470
That would be a requirement.
00:29:18.180 --> 00:29:31.350
Mirya Holman: I do want to say, there have been some circumstances recently where there have been effective challenges mounted against sheriffs around questions of immigration enforcement in jail management and we've seen
00:29:31.890 --> 00:29:38.910
Mirya Holman: You know, broad changes and who's elected to political office. So North Carolina sort of had this wave of
00:29:39.300 --> 00:29:59.130
Mirya Holman: sheriffs, were you know incumbent sheriff's that had been in power for a long time. Last two challengers and often they lost because the sheriff in power had very strict or very punitive policies in place in their jail or around on cooperation with ice and and Customs and Border Patrol.
00:30:01.980 --> 00:30:02.280
Tom Baker: Possible.
00:30:02.310 --> 00:30:03.660
Tom Baker: So don't lose all hope.
00:30:03.990 --> 00:30:12.960
Tom Baker: Now, so, so you're painting a picture of this growing apparatus. You designed to control
00:30:13.770 --> 00:30:27.150
Tom Baker: Immigration then diffusion of that power to local law enforcement and then many of these are these sheriff's who their political and personal ideologies can bleed into how these
00:30:28.110 --> 00:30:38.640
Tom Baker: Or if these are enforced. How much power, are we talking about. So you take a, take a sheriff and a man American County and
00:30:39.480 --> 00:30:52.860
Tom Baker: How much power and it can just talk a little bit about how how how much political power, both within immigration and other numbers, you talked about this earlier, saying, and people don't realize how much power. These people have to talk a little bit about that.
00:30:53.100 --> 00:31:02.940
Mirya Holman: Yeah, so I sort of kicker. As with all of this that I for many people that live in the United States.
00:31:03.840 --> 00:31:13.200
Mirya Holman: Their Sheriff is actually probably the most powerful local elected official in their lives. They just don't really know it.
00:31:14.160 --> 00:31:23.130
Mirya Holman: So in general, shares run jails that we know that that's sort of a consistent task across the united states that all shares run jails.
00:31:23.550 --> 00:31:33.690
Mirya Holman: In running those jails. They have an enormous amount of discretion. So just jail management itself requires making a lot of choices about
00:31:34.500 --> 00:31:48.510
Mirya Holman: The degree to which you are going to punish people for bad behavior. The types of resources that you're going to offer them. Are you going to allow them to access library books are you going to allow them to make
00:31:49.110 --> 00:32:04.050
Mirya Holman: Free phone calls to family and friends. All of these are our policy choices that sheriff's make and make largely with autonomy. So there's not other people's are regulating what they do in their jails.
00:32:05.130 --> 00:32:19.710
Mirya Holman: But the other thing that sheriff's do is that they regulate sure who comes into their jail so in many places shares our primary law enforcement offices. So they run a whole office that has deputies under
00:32:20.340 --> 00:32:30.270
Mirya Holman: Them and they engaged in a variety of really important choices about the law enforcement policy that they're going to engage in in their communities.
00:32:30.870 --> 00:32:40.440
Mirya Holman: So we can think about this from everything from us whether or not you choose to sort of decriminalize minor drug possessions in your community.
00:32:40.980 --> 00:32:51.480
Mirya Holman: What kinds of support you provide to victims of crimes in your community, what kinds of trainings, you have your law enforcement deputies engaged in
00:32:52.080 --> 00:33:00.840
Mirya Holman: And the degree to which you allow state and federal officers to use your law enforcement.
00:33:01.830 --> 00:33:10.500
Mirya Holman: Apparatus to enforce state and federal laws. So when we talk about immigration. Are you somebody that allows
00:33:10.980 --> 00:33:25.380
Mirya Holman: CPS to regularly check the immigration status of individuals that you interact with as a law enforcement as a law enforcement apparatus. So in the article that Emily, I wrote, we asked share us
00:33:25.980 --> 00:33:32.370
Mirya Holman: Serve. What is your typical policy about when you check immigration status of individuals.
00:33:32.730 --> 00:33:48.240
Mirya Holman: And we know that generally most law enforcement officers agree that we should be checking the immigration status of individuals that have been charged with crimes, particularly felonies. So if you have been booked into a jail.
00:33:48.630 --> 00:34:00.510
Mirya Holman: And you've been charged with a crime, and you're going to be fingerprinted associated with that being charged with that crime, then you should be run through the federal database that checks your immigration status.
00:34:01.620 --> 00:34:10.710
Mirya Holman: But there's an enormous amount of interaction that individuals have with law enforcement that occurs before somebody is booked into jail and for for
00:34:11.190 --> 00:34:22.410
Mirya Holman: For far minor instances and then being booked into jail. So we asked sheriff's whether or not they check people's immigration status when they are stopped for traffic violations.
00:34:23.040 --> 00:34:29.040
Mirya Holman: When they are working when they report crimes as witnesses and victims of crimes.
00:34:29.520 --> 00:34:38.700
Mirya Holman: Thinking that these are times where there's a lot of discretion about when whether or not you're going to check somebody's immigration status is also a point where
00:34:39.090 --> 00:34:53.370
Mirya Holman: We know particularly for the traffic violations that a lot of racial profiling occurs by law enforcement is and this is in some ways sort of a mechanism of racial profiling, whether or not you check someone's immigration status.
00:34:54.570 --> 00:35:11.520
Mirya Holman: So this is an example of the types of discretion that sheriff's have but sheriff's also have a lot of discretion about the services that they offer. So whether or not they would accept a Mexican idea console or identification as a form of identification.
00:35:12.000 --> 00:35:18.810
Mirya Holman: Whether or not they provide Spanish translation services. These types of sort of more
00:35:19.380 --> 00:35:40.920
Mirya Holman: Proactive services that a sheriff's office can engage them to represent the that there's a broad range of policies that these individuals can put into place or not that would allow for an immigrant community to interface more easily or more difficultly with with local law enforcement.
00:35:41.880 --> 00:35:44.940
Tom Baker: So, so you guys operationalize this
00:35:46.230 --> 00:35:58.590
Tom Baker: These how people could exercise these this power and you you survey people from sheriffs around the around the country and you're trying to measure to determine whether or not these individual
00:35:59.340 --> 00:36:06.420
Tom Baker: Belief translate into the action what. So first of all, how many, how many people did you serve in
00:36:06.990 --> 00:36:16.800
Mirya Holman: My just over 500 share. So we sent out a survey to all sheriff's and about 500 536 or so I responded
00:36:17.610 --> 00:36:23.880
Tom Baker: And what were your sort of central findings when you when you broke, broke this down you analyze it. What word you find
00:36:24.330 --> 00:36:42.060
Mirya Holman: So the big finding is that sheriff's that they themselves report having more negative attitudes about immigrants or supporting more punitive National Immigration policy are more likely to report that they
00:36:43.860 --> 00:36:53.070
Mirya Holman: Check immigration status of people that are witnesses to crimes or victims of crimes or during routine engagements like traffic stops.
00:36:53.340 --> 00:37:05.070
Mirya Holman: There's no difference, though, in terms of attitudes in that sort of far end of immigration checks. So whether or not you check someone's immigration status when they've been charged with a felony.
00:37:05.550 --> 00:37:06.780
Tom Baker: About kind of universal
00:37:06.840 --> 00:37:20.310
Mirya Holman: Universal sheriffs just report yes all sheriff's report. Yes, we check someone's immigration status. It's in this sort of period where these these times that are far more discretionary when the shares individual attitudes.
00:37:20.670 --> 00:37:25.890
Mirya Holman: Seem to really play a role in in their choices that are making about immigration policy.
00:37:27.180 --> 00:37:35.670
Tom Baker: So it doesn't it doesn't bleed over where there's sort of consensus where citizens would expect. Like, I think.
00:37:36.120 --> 00:37:42.210
Tom Baker: I mean, if someone is arrested for an armed robbery, it makes sense to me that the officials that have been the custody would run
00:37:43.050 --> 00:37:51.180
Tom Baker: Every kind of check that they could possibly done by the someone conducts a traffic stop. And I wouldn't expect the
00:37:51.990 --> 00:38:10.830
Tom Baker: Police officer to run them through immigration and it doesn't seem like there would be a reason to do it, what you're finding is is that when you look across the country in these different departments that when the sheriff expresses a certain type of ideology that
00:38:11.850 --> 00:38:13.830
Tom Baker: Is bleeding through and they are conducting
00:38:15.300 --> 00:38:16.290
Tom Baker: Sort of circumstances.
00:38:16.590 --> 00:38:31.770
Mirya Holman: And it is I want to point out if it's a fairly low level of engaging these behaviors. Right. So it's, you know, under 20% of sheriff's are reporting that they check somebody's immigration status. For example, when they're when they are
00:38:33.030 --> 00:38:44.580
Mirya Holman: When they're taking it for a traffic violation. But there still are major differences within that 20% that 20% is made up largely of sheriffs that have negative attitudes themselves about immigrants.
00:38:45.270 --> 00:38:48.780
Tom Baker: And this the thing that that really made
00:38:50.070 --> 00:38:58.350
Tom Baker: You know, drew my attention to this topic was that the there are implications that you wouldn't expect like having worked in
00:38:59.790 --> 00:39:12.990
Tom Baker: Community with a large number of documented people and having to conduct investigations and the detectives where you're you're dependent upon people reporting crime.
00:39:13.320 --> 00:39:16.140
Tom Baker: People sitting around to give you information.
00:39:17.520 --> 00:39:19.860
Tom Baker: Things when people don't feel
00:39:22.470 --> 00:39:35.940
Tom Baker: They wouldn't be people lose trust in the police and the government, they're more likely to take things into their own hands. And if you look at homicide rates across the rest of the world for the last 400 years when public trust is low.
00:39:37.230 --> 00:39:45.810
Tom Baker: People pick pan things into their own in their own hands. So when you alienated community there can be real implications.
00:39:46.920 --> 00:39:59.760
Mirya Holman: You also think about the, you know, one of the challenges is that most people don't know the difference between, say, a sheriff and police chief and they don't know the difference between being
00:40:00.630 --> 00:40:03.840
Mirya Holman: interviewed by a sheriff's deputy or
00:40:04.680 --> 00:40:20.010
Mirya Holman: A police officer. And so if you have a sheriff That's engaging in these types of behaviors and word gets out that that's happening right that the police are checking immigration status when you say report a crime or when you're a victim of a crime.
00:40:20.340 --> 00:40:34.800
Mirya Holman: Then what the sort of downstream effects we would assume are that people will begin to distrust all law enforcement and as a result, then you have these consequences that you talked about have it becomes incredibly difficult to
00:40:36.330 --> 00:40:37.500
Mirya Holman: Investigate
00:40:38.490 --> 00:40:46.350
Mirya Holman: Crimes or it becomes very unlikely that people will report crimes, particularly minor crimes. So you might see
00:40:46.560 --> 00:40:58.680
Mirya Holman: That people just don't report, things like my normal burglary or domestic violence or sexual assault, because you don't trust that they're going to be able to interface with with law enforcement.
00:41:00.090 --> 00:41:09.990
Tom Baker: And the police. I can think of one that really stands out to me and experience I had where I was involved in an actual responded to a domestic violence call while I was patrol officer.
00:41:10.530 --> 00:41:19.560
Tom Baker: And in the act of defending a person had to discharge my firearm. Shoot, shoot somebody work and the person who is standing behind me.
00:41:20.370 --> 00:41:26.370
Tom Baker: Was the only independent witness to why I had done what I've done. And when I was being
00:41:27.030 --> 00:41:42.090
Tom Baker: Interviewed by the homicide investigator. Later that evening they couldn't find this witness person had they found them later on. But this person was undocumented. They were a victim of domestic violence and when the police showed up.
00:41:43.230 --> 00:41:52.080
Tom Baker: And they they fled that didn't feel safe because in when they were interviewed. They said I will share job other scared Sheriff Joe was going to deport me
00:41:52.380 --> 00:42:07.800
Tom Baker: Yes, so like it's. It's incredible how how much of an impact this has on the on on a community like a cultural level, so it's it's it's it's terrifying.
00:42:08.580 --> 00:42:17.310
Tom Baker: Can you talk a little bit about so so this is this is what you've you're finding. That's fascinating. What, what sort of policy recommendations if you were
00:42:18.330 --> 00:42:20.190
Tom Baker: Dictator Perpetua you could
00:42:21.600 --> 00:42:30.480
Tom Baker: Send out some solutions and say, here's the changes that we need to make what or maybe something more, something that's feasible work. What type of policy recommendations.
00:42:31.290 --> 00:42:37.920
Mirya Holman: So in general, I think that we should get out of the business of criminalizing immigration status.
00:42:39.180 --> 00:42:50.100
Mirya Holman: I don't think that it should be the role of law enforcement to engage in immigration status checks or evaluations, because
00:42:50.610 --> 00:43:10.410
Mirya Holman: Once you get law enforcement involved then that sets up the incentive structure to do things like this. And the other sort of wrinkle to this that I think about a lot is that sheriff's are also heavily incentivized financially to to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement
00:43:11.640 --> 00:43:24.990
Mirya Holman: sheriff's are generally depends on the state, but generally paid a rate per person per day in their jail and often the rate that they're paid by the state is very low.
00:43:26.370 --> 00:43:37.230
Mirya Holman: So look, I live in Louisiana. Louisiana is notoriously miserly and what they pay sheriff's to hold people in in jails.
00:43:38.220 --> 00:43:49.560
Mirya Holman: And so often. This involves the share of trying to find alternative places for money because they're not actually being paid enough to cover the basic expenses of holding people in jail.
00:43:50.190 --> 00:43:55.110
Mirya Holman: Immigrations and Customs Enforcement pays a much higher rate to hold people in jail.
00:43:55.470 --> 00:44:13.680
Mirya Holman: And so if you have an environment where immigration enforcement has been criminalized. It's in and sheriff's are financially incentivized to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement this then creates a a avenue for local law enforcement to say
00:44:14.790 --> 00:44:29.040
Mirya Holman: Well, the best thing for me financially is to check. Everybody's immigration status and hold anybody that might possibly be in violation of their immigration status for eyesore CPS to come and get them.
00:44:30.630 --> 00:44:40.230
Mirya Holman: That is not an ideal circumstance, if we're trying to think about how to have law enforcement that's trusted by the Community.
00:44:40.950 --> 00:44:54.210
Mirya Holman: And so you have these sort of these two two interests, say, one of your interest is immigration enforcement and other is having to trust in law enforcement at direct odds with each other.
00:44:55.530 --> 00:45:08.130
Mirya Holman: So first recommendation is sort of decriminalized immigration enforcement. The second major and recommendation that I would have is for
00:45:09.660 --> 00:45:15.000
Mirya Holman: This sort of finances of jails to be more equity equity Lee.
00:45:15.870 --> 00:45:27.270
Mirya Holman: Allocated particularly across states. So what one thing that we see is that some states are really good at paying for the actual cost of holding people in jails.
00:45:27.660 --> 00:45:38.370
Mirya Holman: And this is particularly important in circumstances where share so come has sort of come to be de facto mental health care providers in their communities.
00:45:39.090 --> 00:45:51.810
Mirya Holman: And he can become very expensive for shares to humanely hold individuals in their journals that are there, primarily because they have mental health problems, not because they're actual criminals.
00:45:52.560 --> 00:46:00.930
Mirya Holman: Or they become sort of social service providers because they are the ones that arrest people for homelessness, etc.
00:46:02.220 --> 00:46:06.270
Mirya Holman: And so if we had a sort of aroma more robust social service.
00:46:07.320 --> 00:46:08.280
Mirya Holman: Enterprise.
00:46:09.360 --> 00:46:17.280
Mirya Holman: That included funds directly to share us for dealing with these types of things. And then we would sort of bypass. Some of these incentives.
00:46:17.670 --> 00:46:30.480
Mirya Holman: And the third policy recommendation that I have is around training so sheriff's are generally when we talk to share us when I talked to share us and they want more training, they don't
00:46:30.870 --> 00:46:44.760
Mirya Holman: Know how to do a lot of the policy tasks that they have been granted and as a result they rely on whatever training is available, which means that they want to participate in things like 27 G.
00:46:45.210 --> 00:47:00.240
Mirya Holman: Because it means free training for their deputies and they don't have the funds to provide good training and so they Yes, absolutely. I'll have CPS come and do a do a training for me for free or maybe they'll even pay me like, that's amazing.
00:47:00.780 --> 00:47:13.080
Mirya Holman: So if we have sort of a better apparatus for thinking about how to interact with immigrant communities in produce policy around, interacting with immigrant communities that law enforcement.
00:47:13.380 --> 00:47:20.820
Mirya Holman: Could use that I think would also sort of bypass. Some of the incentives to participate in in these types of programs.
00:47:22.290 --> 00:47:37.320
Tom Baker: Moving back to making immigration violations, a civil matter like there were in the past decoupling local law enforcement from the immigration function. So that might might also include
00:47:38.400 --> 00:47:43.590
Tom Baker: beefing up. I don't know how how that would look but decoupling those and then
00:47:44.730 --> 00:47:55.320
Tom Baker: The other thing you talked about was alleviating some of the pressure so that they're not having to incarcerate people for mental health issues, we can maybe treat their mental health issues or addiction issues.
00:47:56.520 --> 00:48:00.450
Tom Baker: And then the last, the last bit. If you could touch on one more time was
00:48:01.710 --> 00:48:05.610
Mirya Holman: Just thinking about sort of alternatives to training.
00:48:05.790 --> 00:48:06.960
Mirya Holman: Okay, yeah.
00:48:07.200 --> 00:48:23.550
Tom Baker: Right, so, so take it again. It's kind of that in the there's a there's an incentive structure being created by the federal government, whereby you can incarcerate these people and make more money incarcerating them, you can get your people training and resources.
00:48:23.700 --> 00:48:29.220
Tom Baker: That they might not otherwise get so he needs to there needs to be a bunch of different things that take place in order to
00:48:29.280 --> 00:48:39.240
Tom Baker: To make these changes. What about the actual, the idea of the sheriff. So the idea that in 2020 such a complex
00:48:39.720 --> 00:48:53.760
Tom Baker: Society that we still have these guys with the 10 gallon bucket hats yelling crazy things on TV. Do you think the time has come to think that the time the sheriff is pastor this something that we're going to be stuck with her.
00:48:54.630 --> 00:49:13.230
Mirya Holman: I mean, so, practically, we are stuck with them because they are written into more than happy state constitution and there's also sort of practical issues of if we move to an appointed system on who would appoint them.
00:49:14.580 --> 00:49:15.060
Mirya Holman: I
00:49:16.350 --> 00:49:22.830
Mirya Holman: So would that be county commissioners. What if you are in a place where there aren't county commissioners.
00:49:24.960 --> 00:49:30.630
Mirya Holman: This governor. Are you going to give the governor that much power right so in Texas. Are you going to give
00:49:31.380 --> 00:49:40.380
Mirya Holman: Greg Abbott, the power to a point 286 sheriff's that all have enormous amounts of discretion and autonomy like
00:49:41.250 --> 00:49:54.240
Mirya Holman: You know that that's that doesn't seem right to me that. And so the sort of question is then, like, compared to what right so if is it should we have elected chair us
00:49:54.990 --> 00:50:06.510
Mirya Holman: I don't know, I haven't yet sort of fully decided that on, but I don't know that I have been presented with an alternative that's any better than what we what we have and the
00:50:06.870 --> 00:50:08.550
Tom Baker: Reality is, what is. What would God
00:50:08.700 --> 00:50:18.510
Mirya Holman: Yes. And so then they sort of second choice is that we do a much better job of thinking about political competition for these offices. Right.
00:50:19.140 --> 00:50:29.730
Mirya Holman: And there's there's a little bit of effort at this, but for a long time, these offices have just sort of been ignored by political activists at a local level, they
00:50:30.270 --> 00:50:42.720
Mirya Holman: Are not they haven't even been on the radar. You know, so we have local we have city council races that are million dollar city council races for a seat that basically has no power.
00:50:43.410 --> 00:50:52.350
Mirya Holman: And meanwhile, there's an incumbent Sheriff that has enormous amount of power that like his offices like three doors down and everybody's getting boring.
00:50:52.830 --> 00:51:02.010
Mirya Holman: So thinking about, you know, political accountability as being the the avenue towards change and these offices and
00:51:03.180 --> 00:51:11.820
Mirya Holman: That would be what I would suggest is, if you're interested in in changing this then find somebody to run for Sheriff against an incumbent
00:51:12.690 --> 00:51:22.950
Tom Baker: Okay, so if you're not happy to share fine to me to run against. Yes. So I guess it is what it is. It's so come on so complicated and American law enforcement is such an
00:51:23.760 --> 00:51:33.240
Tom Baker: Intricate patchwork of organizations and overlapping responsibility that it's almost like so complicated that you could never reform it
00:51:38.220 --> 00:51:49.410
Tom Baker: Yeah, and it's you know 18,000 plus different agencies. We don't even know how many police agencies that are in the United States, but it just seems it seems like a no matter what the issue.
00:51:49.920 --> 00:52:05.490
Tom Baker: In policing. I always here as a obstacle to reform this this this patchwork makes it difficult, but there are some positive things to say about it, as well as a one more question that I've had you for it for quite a while.
00:52:06.810 --> 00:52:26.910
Tom Baker: So we, I just been thinking about the the the effort that's going to be required to restart the economy was going to contact tracing all of the work that's going to be need to be done. Have you thought at all about what role or what type of influence. Erica sheriff's may have
00:52:28.170 --> 00:52:30.960
Tom Baker: How this takes place. Can you talk a little bit about that. If you thought about it.
00:52:31.170 --> 00:52:45.390
Mirya Holman: Yeah, so I mean there's a couple of things that are happening that involve sheriff's. The first is that in some states, you see that Sheriff so said that they're not going to enforce stay at home orders.
00:52:47.490 --> 00:53:06.000
Mirya Holman: And I've got is sort of broadly a part of a more general political movement by sheriff's the national sovereignty movement constitutional sheriffs, where are they wrestle at state efforts, any kind of state efforts to tell them what to do.
00:53:08.010 --> 00:53:11.880
Mirya Holman: That perhaps would be a different podcast. We can talk about that at some point.
00:53:13.350 --> 00:53:23.700
Mirya Holman: There's also, though this this components to restarting the economy and i think is really interesting, which is sort of right now, and we
00:53:24.090 --> 00:53:38.220
Mirya Holman: In, you know, I mean, where I live, so use it as example New Orleans has essentially like decriminalize drugs, right, because we're not engaging in any kind of drug enforcement they've released all nonviolent offenders from the jail.
00:53:38.730 --> 00:53:48.990
Mirya Holman: So the jail is at its lowest level and 40 years of people in the jail and we're basically like to a
00:53:49.860 --> 00:54:08.940
Mirya Holman: To a system where the sheriff is only responsible for really violent offenders. At this point, and you're thinking about whether or not there are law enforcement officers that take this as an opportunity to say like, well, like, what if we just like kept doing this right. Like, what if we
00:54:10.650 --> 00:54:19.320
Mirya Holman: Sort of decided that we weren't going to enforce a lot of or criminally enforce a lot of these nonviolent offenses in our communities.
00:54:19.740 --> 00:54:26.190
Mirya Holman: What would it look like if we only tried to maintain a jail population of a third of what we normally do.
00:54:26.820 --> 00:54:34.050
Mirya Holman: And like I just think that's a really interesting and thought exercise of sort of what law enforcement.
00:54:34.530 --> 00:54:40.830
Mirya Holman: What kinds of decisions, law enforcement could make right now moving forward to using this as sort of a
00:54:41.250 --> 00:54:46.920
Mirya Holman: Structural interruption to then really reform, what law enforcement looks like in their communities.
00:54:47.400 --> 00:54:53.370
Mirya Holman: sheriff's have the opportunity to actually do that right because they have all of this autonomy assure couldn't decide like
00:54:53.760 --> 00:55:06.180
Mirya Holman: Hey guess what my life is a lot easier if I only have 60 people instead of 300 people in jail every day. But what if I just sort of try to keep it at this so i think i think it's
00:55:07.080 --> 00:55:13.470
Mirya Holman: You know nothing about. This is great, but I think this sort of opportunities that that it presents are really interesting.
00:55:14.250 --> 00:55:20.490
Tom Baker: That never let a crisis, go to waste. I mean, it's a it's an excuse. If you're, if you're a political figure
00:55:20.970 --> 00:55:34.050
Tom Baker: shirts are to make changes, you have this major disruptive event and it gives you you know the the space and hopefully that that's basically be filled with some positive change and not just not just horrible things like
00:55:37.170 --> 00:55:43.920
Tom Baker: I want to thank you so much for. Do you have any any sort of final thoughts or any sort of things that you want to touch on before
00:55:44.520 --> 00:55:46.920
Mirya Holman: Just an encouragement all listeners out there.
00:55:48.810 --> 00:55:49.980
Mirya Holman: When they're going to be reelected.
00:55:50.820 --> 00:55:53.820
Tom Baker: Okay, so get up and get out there and be politically active
00:55:54.060 --> 00:55:59.070
Tom Baker: Thank you. So thank you so much for, for your time. I think this is a this is like a topic that's not
00:55:59.220 --> 00:56:03.780
Tom Baker: Is not nearly enough attention is given to so I really appreciate your guys's work on this. Thank you. So
00:56:03.780 --> 00:56:04.110
Tom Baker: Much
00:56:04.290 --> 00:56:06.240
Tom Baker: Thanks, Tom, be safe. Yeah.