(Revised, Originally published 8/052020)
Before the primary a few months ago we stated, “Of all the candidates for Gwinnett County Sheriff in this election, one stands out. Current Chief Deputy Lou Solis. While other candidates have law enforcement experience, they don’t seem to understand the operation of the sheriff’s department. Solis has already put into effect or enhanced the programs his opponents are talking about implementing. You have to wonder about the qualifications of candidates who apparently don’t know how the sheriff’s department has been operating, misrepresent the facts or rely on erroneous talking points.”
Lou Solis and Keybo Taylor won their respective primaries and appear on the ballot for the November election. And Solis remains as the best candidate- by a wide margin.
Solis is already doing the things that his opponent and his supporters claim need to be done – including programs to increase diversity in the command staff, lower inmate recidivism and help rehabilitate inmates. These misleading statements indicate those making them apparently do not have an understanding of what is actually taking place in the Gwinnett County Jail or at the Court House or are simply making false statements.
One case in point is the Democrats’ claim that the sheriff’s department needs more diversity in its personnel. This claim has no basis and is simply a rehash of the same claim made in 2015. And just as the Politifact fact checks department found in 2015, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office mirrors the community it serves. In fact, today’s Command Staff is even more diverse than it was in 2015. A simple review of the facts shows that.
Most impressive is Solis’ work to rehabilitate and reduce recidivism rates of incarcerated. He implemented “The Barracks”, a nationally recognized program for military veterans in November of 2018. The impact has been incredible with a 100% reduction in fights in the housing unit and a since of community for both the inmates and staff. Because of the outcomes experienced in “The Barracks”, he has gone on to implement similar therapeutic housing options focused on addiction and women’s needs.
“Restoration and Recovery” is a therapeutic community designed to address addiction. “The Fresh Start Garden” is a housing unit designed to address needs of incarcerated women. He is working to see an even greater reduction in recidivism by providing therapeutic programming in housing units, and expand the Therapeutic Housing Model to include the general population. This would allow individuals who may have never had the opportunity to participate in programming to get services that could drive the recidivism rate even lower. Research from organizations who use a therapeutic housing model show recidivism rates as low as 10% and Solis wants to achieve similar numbers for the entire population in the jail. This on top of the expansion of the Gwinnett Re-entry Intervention Program, GRIP, that Sheriff Conway implemented in 2012.
Then there is the support he has among the men and women who work at the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office. A common thread is that Chief Deputy Solis can be found in the back of the jail interacting with, checking on, and working with the men and women serving, as well as with those incarcerated. He’s described as having a “huge heart” and “always willing to roll up his sleeves and help.”
Solis’ approach has proven to be a highly effective means of reducing crime as it encourages first offenders not to become repeat offenders. This is the same approach as used in the county’s accountability courts, which have an impressive record of reducing recidivism.
In addition to his accomplishments as Chief Deputy, Lou Solis is also a highly decorated retired Army Ranger and has utilized his fluency in Spanish as a bilingual hostage negotiator for the Georgia State Patrol.
When compared to his opponent, who has a decade long history of not paying his property taxes until after a tax lien is filed, (among other financial issues resulting in creditors filing lawsuits) Lou Solis is unquestionably the most highly qualified candidate for Gwinnett County Sheriff.