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Candidate Q&A – Antonio ‘Block’ Johnson, candidate for DeKalb County Sheriff

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

Candidate Q&A – Antonio ‘Block’ Johnson, candidate for DeKalb County Sheriff

Antonio 'Block' Johnson
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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?

I am running for the Office of DeKalb County Sheriff to make a leadership difference, restore community trust while making the office one of the best in the state.

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

In my 33-three-year law enforcement career, I have served honorably, with transparency and without scandal. I have received numerous leadership awards, a graduated of several leadership schools such at the United States Air Force NCO Academy, First Sergeant Academy, Georgia Chiefs of Police Executive Training and the FBI National Academy (Session 191st).But most importantly, I have successfully led a law enforcement agency as the Chief Marshal of Fulton County for three, four-year terms.

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

When I’m elected, my top priorities are to review and audit all contracts under the Sheriff responsibility, work with the Board of Commissioners to pay competitive salaries to recruit detention officers and deputies to fill vacant positions in the jail and courthouse.  And make the jail a safer, cleaner and secure facility while working with other law enforcement agencies in reducing criminal activity throughout DeKalb County.

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?

Once I am elected, my goal is to make the office an ethical, highly professional institution with dedicated leadership, leading by example, retaining and hiring top employees and by holding everyone under my purview accountable for achieving our goals and objectives.

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

Under my leadership as Sheriff, I will not hold any undocumented individual without being charged with a crime or an outstanding warrant after the booking intake process has been completed.

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

Transgender inmates will be classified based on their gender identity upon entering booking intake of the jail.  Additionally, all members of the staff will always be required to complete sensitivity training annually and adhere to nondiscriminatory practices.

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?

Inmates in the county jail should be treated with respect and fairness. When I am elected, reviewing practices and procedures regarding inmate treatment and the physical conditions of the jail will be one of my priorities.  Actions will be based on facts, not emotions, and the best practices for mutual respect for an inmate’s civil rights and staff and inmate safety.

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?

No comment.

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

I will support current inmate rehabilitate programs and introduce a new initiative to improve inmate literacy by collaborating with local libraries and the community to donate used books to the jail.  I also plan to seek partnerships with nonprofit literacy organizations to provide volunteer tutoring and soft job readiness skills such as resume preparation.

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?

Yes.

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?

The evaluation of all contracts under my responsibility as Sheriff will be part of the action plan, I develop within the first 100 days of being elected to ensure that contractors and vendors are fair, responsive and conforming to the terms of their agreements with the county.

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

I will review the current visitation policy to see if there are areas that need improvement to enhance inmate accessibility without compromising jail security operations.

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

Mental healthcare has been concerning in jails throughout the U.S.  I will ensure that detection and treatment at the DeKalb County Jail is a top priority and that a quality provider with adequate staff is held accountable per the terms of contract.

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

Yes.

 

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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