The Sheriff Strikes Back

Instead of freeing dangerous prisoners to ease overcrowding, a Massachusetts lawman seizes a National Guard armory

It was an act that brought a flush of pride to beleaguered lawmen across the country. In western Massachusetts, Michael Ashe, for 15 years sheriff of Hampden County, decided to challenge at last a prison system that had failed him. His overcrowded county jail, built in 1887 to hold 279 prisoners, bulged < with 450. Frustrated judges in Springfield, Mass., were forced to stay sentences for convicted criminals because there was simply no place to lock them up. A new phrase cropped up for the judicial impasse: convicted without correctional space. Last month 30 offenders walked free from Springfield courtrooms after...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!