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Sheriffs are not the ones that order evictions, but they do make the final call on whether an eviction moves forward. By wide margins, voters around the country think sheriffs should not evict people and families from their homes in the middle of the coronavirus crisis—much less use force to do so.
A new report from The Justice Collaborative Institute and Data for Progress on sheriffs’ roles in executing evictions in communities shows that voters oppose evictions during the pandemic and favor sheriffs imposing their own moratoriums—refusing to evict people for late rent and mortgage payments.
Ultimately, it’s sheriffs who determine when and how people are forced out of their homes. For an eviction to take place, sheriffs or their deputies must serve a writ notifying people of the possibility of eviction. And when the time comes, it’s the sheriff that forcibly removes not just people but their property from homes, placing items in storage—for a fee—or even just discarding them altogether.
A strong majority—two in three voters (66 percent)—agreed that even after states and municipalities lift eviction moratoriums, sheriffs should continue to show decency and refrain from evicting tenants and owners from their homes.
“It’s hard to imagine a worse time to evict people from their homes,” said Diane Lucas, Director of Community Engagement. “Sheriffs must exercise their discretion to halt evictions not just as a matter of decency but public health.”
When it comes to how sheriffs execute evictions, which can become violent, the Data for Progress poll found that most voters (57 percent) oppose the use of forceful, SWAT-style tactics by law enforcement.
The report is available here.