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Immigration activist sentenced to jail for protesting jail conditions

A view from inside an exercise cage at the Bristol County House of Corrections. Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is third from the left.
A view from inside an exercise cage at the Bristol County House of Corrections. Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is third from the left.Globe staff photo by Stan Grossfeld

Sherrie Andre, an immigration activist, was convicted of trespassing and disturbing the peace Monday and sentenced to 30 days in jail — the maximum possible sentence, fellow advocates said.

Andre was arrested after a peaceful protest in 2018 that was intended to raise awareness about conditions inside the Bristol County House of Correction, according to a statement from the FANG Collective, an environmental advocacy group.

Andre is a co-founder of the FANG Collective and took part in the protest to stand in solidarity with people detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and held in the corrections facility who were on a hunger strike, the statement said.

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“We are surprised by the guilty verdict, and shocked and enraged that the Judge decided to impose the maximum sentence on Sherrie, despite dozens of letters of support summited on Sherrie’s behalf by community leaders,” the FANG Collective’s statement said. “This harsh sentence is reflective of the violence that the Bristol County Sheriff's Department inflicts on people every single day.”

Bristol County has a contract with ICE that allows local law enforcement officers to act as immigration officials and detain people on immigration charges. According to the statement, the corrections facility, overseen by Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, has the highest rate of suicide of any prison in Massachusetts.

Hodgson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.

Bristol County accounted for about a quarter of all jail suicides in Massachusetts from 2006 to 2016, even though it holds 13 percent of the statewide jail population, according to an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, published in the Globe in May 2017.

Andre will serve her 30-day jail term in Bristol County House of Correction. Two other activists arrested at the protest were sentenced to 10 days in jail, and another activist was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine.

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“We will continue to support Sherrie in the coming weeks as well as all those impacted by the Sheriff’s violent policies. We will keep fighting to support our community and hold the Bristol County Sheriff’s Department accountable for their violence.” the statement from the FANG Collective said.