Response to Chair Hentschel refusing to allow the questioning of Sheriff Bensley
September 16, 2020
Comments I made prior to the GT Board of Commissioners meeting 9/16/20. It is in response to how Chair Hentschel refused to allow the questioning of Sheriff Bensley about oversight of the health care of inmates
As a member of the ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign, and someone who made comments at one of the Governor’s Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration sessions, I was more than concerned at how, at the last meeting, the expected review of the medical treatment provided to inmates in the local jail was handled.
For some reason you felt the need to ‘protect’ the sheriff from questioning about an already published report on the medical care provided by Wellpath. You felt no need to halt the proceedings when the drain commissioner was being ripped apart, but maybe that was because those actions could benefit one of the other commissioners.
I know nurses who have worked as medical staff at the jail, I have cared for inmates who arrived in Munson’s Emergency Room in a crisis because they had not received appropriate medications, and I know the family of one of the unfortunate suicides. Trust me, my interest is not idle curiosity; and it is definitely not political.
What is political is that there seems to be something about Sheriff Bensley’s oversight of the jail you want to keep from the public until after the election.
In case you didn’t realize, the GT Commission is tasked with the responsibility of oversight of the jail. And it is my right, as a resident of the area, to be made aware of what has unfolded during the review in question. Yet, Commissioners Coffia and Hundley were accused of blind siding the sheriff. He was given a day’s notice of the questions he would be asked. If he felt unprepared to answer some of the questions, all he had to do was ask for more time.
In case you are unaware, the entire state is currently involved in criminal justice reform as a series of bills are being presented in Lansing. Your actions during the last BOC meeting appears to be an attempt to ‘blindfold’ the community when it comes to oversight of the County jail. There may not have been many people who were interested in Sheriff Bensley’s responses initially. But I guarantee you, after what happened at the last meeting, there are a lot more who will be interested in what he says when he returns from vacation.
I would suggest that you stop trying to limit the efforts of certain commissioners to share information with interested citizens. And, I hope you better familiarize yourselves with the full scope of your responsibilities.