Matthew Ryan is the Working Families candidate for Broome County sheriff. Ryan previously served as a public defender and a youth counselor. In 2006, he was elected as city of Binghamton mayor and served two terms. Ryan holds a law degree from the CUNY School of Law.
1. Safety and security are a major concern in areas across the county. How do you plan to address concerns regarding crime, specifically in Binghamton and Johnson City?
“I agree that safety and security are a major concern across the county. But if we truly care about these goals, we need a totally different approach toward those who become involved in the criminal justice system. If elected sheriff, I will institute policies that will include a robust community policing model. I will bring the concepts of restorative justice to the system. Restorative justice focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders and the community at large. The current model, practiced for decades, has created an ‘us against them’ mentality and does nothing to change the dynamics that lead to crime in the first place. We, as a community, can save the taxpayers money while improving public safety, if we become smart and innovative in how we deal with crime.”
2. Recently, activists have voiced concerns about conditions in the Broome County Jail, which the Sheriff’s Office oversees. What are your thoughts on the jail’s current conditions and what changes would you make, if any?
“The conditions at the jail are alarming and are one of the main reasons I decided to run for sheriff. The mounting numbers of those who have committed suicide or died from lack of good medical care are completely unacceptable. If elected sheriff, my first order of business will be to address these crucial issues and make sure that humane practices are instituted. A full 80 percent of those incarcerated have either mental health or drug addiction problems, and we must recognize that jail is the worst place to deal with either of these social and individual challenges. I will work tirelessly to make sure our community finds the best way to treat these conditions and make sure that we [give] those inmates a path forward that greatly increases their prospects of becoming successful upon their re-entry into their community.”
3. How does your prior experience, both in and out of law enforcement, make you a good candidate for sheriff? What do you bring to the table that your opponent cannot?
“As a former Division for Youth counselor for nine years, public defender for 15 years and my executive position as mayor of Binghamton from 2006 to 2013, I believe I have the right balance of experience to tackle the complexities of the world we live in today. As a prior mayor, I know how to manage a very large budget in a manner that will actually save taxpayer dollars, while improving public safety. The days of having just a law enforcement model to deal with issues of criminal justice are arcane and counterproductive. My executive experience, which included being commissioner of public safety, and my experience in dealing with challenged youth and those charged with crimes, have given me a unique perspective that will allow us, as a community, to establish a more humane and smart way to deal with those charged with crimes.”
4. Why should students vote for you?
“We live in a time when mass incarceration and humane treatment of those who become involved in the criminal justice system are issues that are at the forefront of who we are as a society. Across this country, new approaches to this mass ‘prison industrial complex’ are making inroads to a broken system. I am asking for your vote, so that we, as a community, can be part of a movement toward a time when we have done everything possible to prevent people from becoming involved in the criminal justice system in the first place, [and] do everything possible to be sure that those who do become involved start a path toward successful re-entry into our community [from] the day they are arrested. I promise I will lead the effort to make the criminal justice system in Broome County fair to all, especially in its discriminating bail practices.”