America’s Most Controversial Sheriff?
Judd to Inmates: If you want to play basketball, stay out of jail.
Recently, Polk County Florida’s Sheriff Grady Judd announced that he was removing basketball goals from the recreation yards of the local jails and donating them to area churches in need of recreation equipment. According to Judd, “Going to jail is not fun and games. If you want to play basketball, stay out of jail.” Inmates will still have plenty of other recreation options, such as calisthenics, Judd says.
Judd to Atheists: Bring It On
While Judd’s decision has popular support, it has come under fire by the Atheists of Florida, Inc., which is challenging the constitutionality of the donation. The non-profit group intends to file suit over the donation, arguing that it violates both the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution, specifically the First Amendment. The group has sent Judd a cease-and-desist letter, stating that the donation “cannot avoid excessive entanglement by the government with religion.” They have requested a response from Judd within five days, but Judd has stated that he has no plans to respond. Quite the contrary, he says the group has “…no idea how much I look forward to their silliness.” According to Judd, Sheriff’s Office lawyers investigated the decision prior to the donations and considered it legal.
Judd No Stranger to Controversy
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office website, Sheriff Judd has been with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office since 1972 and has served as its sheriff since 2004. He was re-elected in November 2008 with 99% of the vote.
Despite this overwhelming popular support from the citizens of Polk County, Florida, he is no stranger to controversy. Back in 2006, his office was part of a statewide manhunt for suspected cop killer, Angilo Freeland. The suspect also shot at several other law enforcement officers, injuring a second deputy and killing a K-9. As SWAT officers surrounded the suspect, Freeland raised the gun belonging to the deputy he killed and the SWAT team opened fire.
After his team shot the suspect 68 times with 110 rounds of ammunition, the issue of excessive force arose. When asked why so many shots were fired, Sheriff Judd replied, “I suspect the only reason 110 rounds was all that was fired was that’s all the ammunition they had.” Instead of explaining why officers used so many rounds, Judd had explained why they used so few–far from the politically correct statement or apology that the media expected. Sheriff Judd echoed what many citizens felt at the time. “We were not going to take any chances of him shooting back.”Continued on the next page