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Nick Bernier announces run for Bristol County Sheriff

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Courtesy Nick Bernier
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Nick Bernier

Nick Bernier, a lawyer and former prosecutor for the Bristol County District Attorney, will run to become Bristol County Sheriff in next November’s election. He hopes to unseat 24-year incumbent Thomas Hodgson, who ran unopposed in the last sheriff’s election in 2016.

If elected, Bernier said, he would focus on helping incarcerated people stay out of jail following their release. “If you look at our rate of recidivism, it’s the worst in New England,” he said. “When people leave jail, they go right back.”

Bernier said drug addiction contributes to recidivism in Bristol County, and he proposed improving the range of addiction treatment services available for people incarcerated at county jails.

Of Hodgson, Bernier said, “I respect him as a person, but I strongly disagree with his policies, especially recently with what I believe to be focusing on national issues.” Bernier specifically cited Hodgson’s focus on immigration.

In 2017, Hodgson offered to send incarcerated people to Texas to build then-President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. “It wasn't practical,” said Bernier. “It was just a talking point. But it seemed like he spent a lot of time pushing that talking point on Fox News rather than, you know, working in Bristol County.”

Hodgson said he welcomes competition in next year’s election and that he stands by his focus on immigration as a county sheriff.

For years, the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office held an agreement to house federal detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In May, the Biden administration terminated the agreement, citing Hodgson’s “unacceptable” treatment of the detainees.

Bernier is the first contender to announce a run against Hodgson. In recent years activists have called for candidates to oppose Hodgson, alleging his mistreatment of people incarcerated in county facilities and claiming he has white supremacist sympathies. Hodgson has said those allegations are politically motivated.

During his tenure, Hodgson has drawn wrongful death lawsuits as Bristol County facilities saw disproportionately high rates of suicide.

In April, Bernier appeared as a witness in the trial of former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia. Bernier served as Chief Operating Officer of Correia’s company, SnoOwl, until “I learned that Jasiel wasn’t using investor funds properly,” said Bernier. “I resigned from the company and was eventually called to testify about his misuse of investor funds.”

Daniel covers the South Coast for WCAI. He comes to the station from Minnesota Public Radio, where he reported on science and the environment. Daniel has produced audio documentaries on a motley mix of topics, from the science of sewage to the history of automobile license plates. He holds a PhD in climate change ecology from the University of Minnesota. Daniel is a 2021-22 Report For America corps member.