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Candidate Q&A – Adam Gardner, candidate for DeKalb County Sheriff

Avondale Estates campaign coverage Crime and public safety Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake Metro ATL Tucker

Candidate Q&A – Adam Gardner, candidate for DeKalb County Sheriff

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Adam Gardner


About this series:

Decaturish sent questions to candidates running for DeKalb County Sheriff. The election is March 24, which also coincides with the state’s presidential preference primary. We will publish the candidates’ responses throughout the week. For more information about voting in the upcoming election, please see the note at the end of this post. For all of our 2020 election coverage, visit Decaturishvotes.com

Decaturish needs your help covering the 2020 elections. If you value independent local news that isn’t behind a paywall, consider becoming a monthly supporter of Decaturish. For as little as $3 a month, you can help us provide you with quality and comprehensive election coverage. For more information about becoming a paid supporter, click here

1) Why are you running for this position?

My family and I love living in DeKalb County and I am genuinely concerned for the safe future of DeKalb. It is everyone’s right to feel and to be safe. This is the main reason why I have decided to run for the office of DeKalb County Sheriff. I want to fight to ensure everyone has that right. I also have an extraordinary vision for a safe and secure DeKalb County.

2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?

Editor’s Note: The candidate did not provide an answer.

3) If elected, what will be your top two or three priorities?

– Increase law enforcement presence by 25% in crime-ridden areas in order to deter criminal activity.

– Create a Home Invasion Task Force and Crime Suppression Unit including free training for the public.

– Establish a three-part criminal justice reform plan that will revolutionize the incarceration industry and help individuals in custody, both before and after they are released, thereby resulting in responsible citizens who are good for the community.

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4) The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office has a reputation of being a corrupt institution. Do you think this reputation is deserved and, if so, what would you do to change it?

I do not think the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office is corrupt as a whole.  The majority of the people who work there are honest, hardworking folks trying to serve DeKalb County and provide for their family.  However, I do have some concerns that corruption exists, particularly at upper levels.  A thorough investigation is what is needed by a third party.  I also plan to create a Citizens’ Review Board.  This will absolutely hold me accountable, provide complete transparency, and help restore public trust.

5) As sheriff, what will be your policy regarding cooperation with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement?

I will not participate in the 287(g) program.

6) As sheriff, what will be your policy on housing transgender inmates?

Safety.  My priority for the jail is safety for all staff and inmates.

7) Within the last year, local activists have raised concerns about the treatment of people held within the county jail. Do you feel inmates in the jail are being mistreated? If so, what would you do to change it?

I probably won’t know the answer to that until I am able to assess the situation personally. However, if they are being mistreated, I can almost guarantee you it is a mismanagement issue.

8) Prior to his retirement, Sheriff Jeffrey Mann was facing the possibility of having his certifications revoked due to an arrest in Atlanta in 2017 for exposing himself in a public park. Do you agree with his decision to remain on the job instead of resigning following his arrest and guilty plea?

Editor’s Note: The candidate did not provide an answer.

9) As sheriff, what will you do to help rehabilitate inmates in the county jail?

I have a  plan to establish a three part criminal justice reform plan that will revolutionize the incarceration industry and help individuals in custody, both before and after they are released, thereby resulting in responsible citizens who are good for the community.  The three parts are as follows:

Create a solid Education/ GED program. From what I have observed, GED programs in State Prisons work well because the person is there for a long enough period to complete the process.  However in county jails they often fail, because the person gets a bond, the charges are dismissed or their time is served. So yes the person enrolled in the GED program, but was unable to complete it. So what I would like to do is allow the person to come back to the jail as a visitor on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and complete the program. Another sad thing is the amount of people in jail that struggle with basic issues like reading, math, comprehension and basic problem solving skills. I have spoken with many educators who are willing to volunteer and come in and help me with the inmates.

Implement a solid job placement program and/or skill set training. I have worked in the prison and jail system personally, and have met many talented, smart, and skilled folks. I have also met people that really have a desire to do something with their life, but just don’t know where to start. Developing work training opportunities in and outside of the jail would be very helpful. Also, as the Sheriff I will build relationships with businesses that will work with people being released. It will be minimal employment, but hey it’s a start.

Develop a thriving religious program. I have met with Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu leaders and have heard the same story time and time again. They all tell me that they have had a difficult time getting anything accomplished at the DeKalb jail. I believe this is the key.  An education is great, we all agree. A job is important, and again we all agree. However, you can have an advanced degree and maybe even a high paying job and still get arrested, run from police, or hurt others.  You have to have a basic conviction within yourself. I know plenty of people who hold fast to their faith with deep convictions, and they have no interest in hurting others, stealing cars, breaking in homes, or committing crimes. Therefore if a person is in jail and seeking spiritual guidance or counseling, we must provide that as well.

10) This question comes from a reader: The Georgia Department of Corrections recently made a policy change to provide free and unrestricted access to feminine hygiene products to women in state facilities. This does not apply to county facilities. Will the Sheriff ensure this policy is also implemented and upheld at the DeKalb County jail?


11) Another question from a reader: It currently costs $2.70 for a 15-minute call for those in the county jail. Will the Sheriff continue allowing private to charge such high rates for family communication?

I will investigate the contract (as I will with all current jail contracts) to make sure that the calling contract is not taking advantage of inmates and their families, while someone else is getting their pockets lined.

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12) What will be your family visitation policy for inmates?

I have personally seen first hand the hardship that having a loved one incarcerated can bring to a family.  There are so many issues, one of which is if a family does not have their own transportation to come for visitation, or even if they live out of state.  I would like to do some kind of video visitation, similar to a Skype call.  I realize this will be a process, but I would like to try to make it easier for inmates to visit with family.

13) What will be your approach to mental healthcare at the county jail?

I would like to hire a Mental Health Care Advocate, such as a licensed social worker, who will work together with jail staff, court personnel, and doctors to coordinate services for these individuals.

14) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?


More information about voting in the March 24 election:

The voter registration deadline for the March 24 presidential primary is Feb. 24.

You can look up your status by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page.” To visit the My Voter Page, click here. You can check your status by providing basic information like your last name, birthday and the county you live in. You can also see a sample ballot.

If you find you are not registered, there are a few ways you can get back on the voter rolls.

You can register online with the Secretary of State’s Office by clicking here.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, in order to register to vote you must:

– Be a citizen of the United States

– Be a legal resident of the county where you are voting

– Be at least 17 1/2 years of age to register and 18 years of age to vote

– Not be serving a sentence for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude

– Have not been found mentally incompetent by a judge

For more information about how to register, click here.

People who wish to vote will need to bring one of the following forms of identification, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office:

– Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a free ID Card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)

– A Georgia Driver’s License, even if expired

– Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state

– Valid U.S. passport ID

– Valid U.S. military photo ID

– Valid tribal photo ID

The county board of registrar’s office is located at 4380 Memorial Drive Suite, 300, Decatur, GA 30032.

Early voting will begin on March 2. Here is a list of advanced voting dates and times from the county Board of Registration and Elections:

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