America's Toughest Sheriff Up for Re-Election 

  America's Toughest Sheriff Up for Re-Election 

Posted by FoM on October 23, 2000 at 11:01:27 PT
By Julie Foster, Staff Reporter 
Source: WorldNetDaily 

Best known for his policies requiring inmates to wear pink underwear and black-and-white striped uniforms, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz. is seen as a hero to his constituents and a villain to human rights groups. Formerly head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for Arizona, Arpaio was elected as sheriff in 1992, and was unopposed in his re-election bid of 1996. In the Maricopa County primary election on Sept. 12, the Republican candidate received more than 74 percent of the vote, and is sure to win in a landslide in the November election. 
Yet, while his popularity among the people soars, human rights groups point to jail conditions they say are worse than sub-standard and which may ultimately have led to the deaths of two inmates. Arpaio has been featured on every major news network and even made an appearance this year on the irreverent television program "Politically Incorrect," filmed in April from his famed Tent City. Over 1,200 convicted men, women and juveniles serve their sentences at Tent City -- a canvas incarceration compound. Amnesty International, which investigated Maricopa County jails in 1997, said the "tents provide serious environmental hazards which make them unsuitable for inmate housing." According to Amnesty International's report on the Arpaio's jails, "the tents are situated in the desert and become intensely hot during the summer months. The single fans which were situated in each tent on the day Amnesty International's delegates visited were totally inadequate. There are some 25 inmates to a tent, sleeping in double bunks and there was very little space between the top bunk and the top of the tent, allowing little air to circulate. Amnesty International's delegates were told that prisoners have to breathe in dust from the desert which frequently sweeps through the tents area, and by sources outside the jail that there was a problem with sanitation and with vermin and rodents, although this was denied by the guards the delegates spoke with." Humiliation of prisoners caused by wearing farcical uniforms and eating green bologna takes a back seat in AI's report on the six facilities, including Tent City, in Maricopa County -- the fourth-largest county jail system in the country. Prompted by the 1996 asphyxiation death of an inmate who had been tied to a restraint chair while a towel was wrapped around his head, the report instead zeroes in on use of excessive force in the jails. The restraint chair was also used on a paraplegic who was put in an isolation cell. Richard Post repeatedly banged on his cell window, asking for a catheter to empty his bladder. Frustrated that no one paid attention to him, Post stopped up the toilet in the cell so that water ran under the door. Consequently, he was removed from his wheelchair and strapped into a four-point restraint chair, with his arms pulled down towards his ankles and padlocked and his legs secured in metal shackles. According to the Amnesty International report, Post claims straps attached to the chair behind his shoulders were tightened around his chest and neck so that his shoulders were strained backwards, and that one guard placed his foot on the chair and deliberately yanked on the strap as hard as he could. "The manner of his restraint is reported to have caused compression of his spine and nerve damage to his spinal cord and neck, resulting in significant loss of upper body mobility," the report says. In its 1990 standards, the American Correctional Association specifically prohibits the use of instruments of restraint "as punishment." And Rule 33 of the United Nations' Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states, "Instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons and straitjackets, shall never be applied as punishment. Furthermore, chains and irons shall not be used as restraints." Other cases of excessive force listed in the Amnesty International report detail broken bones and teeth, beatings resulting in spine and knee injuries and repeated use of stun guns as punishment. Staff at the sheriff's office told AI that all jail guards carried stun guns as part of a three-year pilot study set up by the National Sheriff's Association, and that injuries to staff and inmates had gone down since their introduction. Arpaio has also been criticized for his male and female chain gangs, which work six days a week to clean streets, paint over graffiti and do other jobs around the county. Approximately 70 percent of the county's inmates have not been convicted and are being held for trial. Most of the criticized activity takes place at the Madison Street Jail in Phoenix, from which one inmate writes to his mother. "Well, we are in lockdown at this moment, after they gave us a shakedown this morning," writes "Mark," whose name has been changed out of fear of retribution by jail officials. "These shakedowns are (so far) one of the most dehumanizing parts of prison, where they strip search you, feel you up, make you go to the day room wearing only boxer shorts and tear your cell apart." WorldNetDaily obtained letters from Mark written over the last few months. From the inmate's letters, it is evident that what many consider both "cruel and unusual punishment" in the jail serves primarily to humiliate and anger the prisoners, rather than rehabilitate them. "Right now we are in 72 hour lockdown, which is a pain because you can't take a shower or clean up yourself. Sometimes we get these guards who just want to play games to prove to you and themselves that they are in authority," he wrote. "I just have to walk in love and faith and have self-control not to lash out at them." Last month, he wrote of another strip search and the effect the procedure has on him. "Well, they did another strip search on us. Those always are a big test to see if I will forgive all the guards. They can mess with me on the outside, but I don't have to let them take my soul. Just need to keep abiding in God and Jesus' love," he wrote. Most recently, Mark tells of a hunger strike that was "enforced," though he doesn't say by whom. "Well we just concluded today an enforced hunger strike. I complained throughout, but it does seem to have so far resulted in slightly better food at dinner. (Praise God for the canteen I had)." Despite investigations into the jails, including a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that resulted in a lawsuit against the sheriff's department, Arpaio is praised by locals. He banned smoking, coffee, pornographic magazines, movies and unrestricted television in all jails. The sheriff has also launched innovative rehabilitation programs like "Hard Knocks High," the only accredited high school in an American jail. He also has a drug rehabilitation program known as ALPHA, which he calls one of his proudest accomplishments. So how does this hero/villain respond to his critics? "I'm the elected sheriff of Maricopa County, and I report to three million people who are my bosses," he told WorldNetDaily. "I don't like Amnesty International coming out here from England and Iraq and telling my how to run my jail. The people in my county tell me how to run my jail because they elect me." Allegations of abuse are "unfounded," he added. "They've had two Justice Department lawsuits dismissed, the latest was last month" on grounds that the sheriff's department had complied with everything the feds wanted, he said. "We complied with everything before they even came here, but we complied with everything they wanted." What the Justice Department wanted was substantial, systemic changes in the county's jails. And although Arpaio signed an agreement with the Justice Department as a settlement to the government's lawsuit, he has bragged to local media that he changed nothing. Asked what his reaction is to allegations by inmates that they are being fed dog food, Arpaio said, "It costs more to feed the dogs than the inmates, but I don't give them dog food. I give the dogs dog food, and I give the inmates regular food." "Regular" food is reported by inmates to be four slices of bread and salami. But staff at the sheriff's department said the prisoners are given 3,000 calories a day. "Four slices of bread, salami, a fruit and juice. What do they want, steak?" asked the sheriff. "They took away their hot meal and gave them bologna. That saved a half a million dollars. I was nice to give them their salt and pepper back. I took that away 3 years ago, but since they're paying a dollar a day now," he decided to allow them salt and pepper. The former Army soldier began charging inmates $30 per month for food 2 years ago, which he says raised almost $2 million. The money collected does not make the food budget self-sustaining, "but I don't worry because our meals are 60 cents a day -- not a meal, a day. That's 20 cents a meal," he boasted. "We pick fruits and vegetables. We get donations of emus, pigs. I'll take anything I can get, as long as it's free." As for his controversial female chain gangs, "I love the women chain gangs -- the first in the history of the world. There's now an equal opportunity incarcerator. We should never treat women differently than we do men, outside a jail or inside a jail. They all volunteer. They love it," said Arpaio. "I make sure they're up and down the main drag so everyone can see him. I have women every Thursday bury the dead at the county cemetery." Arpaio's latest addition to the jails is the "Jail Cam." Fixed in the Madison Street Jail, four web cameras broadcast live over the Internet from the men's holding cell, the pre-intake area, the search cell and the holding cell area. "If we had anything to hide, the sheriff certainly wouldn't allow cameras," said Sheriff Deputy Dave Trombi. The controversy of Arpaio's methods continues as the lawsuits and investigations continue. And while AI Executive Director in the United States Dr. Bill Schulz said he would not rate Maricopa County jails compared to other jails in America, he does believe the sheriff's actions constitute human rights violations. Public opinion is important, he said, but the "justice department is ultimately responsible" for the treatment of prisoners and accountability of jails.Note: Popular local official accused of human-rights violations.Direct Link To Above Article: Foster is a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily. E-Mail: jfoster worldnetdaily.comSource: WorldNetDaily (US Web)Author: Julie FosterPublished: Monday, October 23, 2000Copyright: 2000,, Inc.Address: PO Box 409, Cave Junction, OR 97523-0409Fax: (541) 597-1700Contact: letters worldnetdaily.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Sites:Amnesty International Incorrect Incorrect Transcripts - May 1, 2000 Looks At Jail's Grim Realities  Candidate Finds Cell, Not Support Deploys Howitzer in War on Drugs

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Comment #7 posted by SirAdrich on September 13, 2001 at 10:14:10 PT

It's about time!
It's about time someone decided to quit mollycoddling these dregs of society, and hold them accountable for their actions. We finally have someone with enough backbone to use the system for it's intended purpose. Prison is SUPPOSED to be a loss of civil rights, imposed for the violation of others civil rights.
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Comment #6 posted by Haile Selassie on October 24, 2000 at 14:21:04 PT

AZs Tuffest She-Rift

all Facists will get Their Due Payments.Remember how they Did mussolini!!!!!
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Comment #5 posted by mungojelly on October 24, 2000 at 01:59:18 PT:

2 million prisoners

The world is stunned, amazed, and disturbed that Amerika has more than 2,000,000 prisoners -- but they would be much more disturbed if they knew how those prisoners were treated. We take the abuse, rape and minimal sustenance provided to our prisoners for granted; things are not like this in the rest of the world. I have heard that in Iceland (the happiest country in the world according to recent studies) prisoners are allowed to go home for the holidays. In civilized countries they treat prisoners as human beings. Amerika is not civilized. 
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Comment #4 posted by demiwolf on October 23, 2000 at 21:42:06 PT:

Cruel and unusual

If this is'nt cruel and unusual punishment i'd like to know what is. Maybe someday he will shake hands with Barry in hell. They would surely make good cell mates.
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Comment #3 posted by Dan B on October 23, 2000 at 20:21:15 PT:

Arpaio: Sooner or Later, Karma's Gonna Getcha

I believe that Hell has a special place for people like Arpaio--right there alongside Hitler, Stalin, and their ilk.This prick makes me absolutely sick. How can the people of Maricopa County, AZ stand for these human rights violations? Of course, the federal government will continue to do nothing about it; they surely applaud this kind of hate-induced disregard for human life. Disgusting.Dan B
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Comment #2 posted by freedom fighter on October 23, 2000 at 13:19:24 PT

Must have

subscription to get into that site.. It's free tho..
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Comment #1 posted by on October 23, 2000 at 13:17:32 PT:

The Balloon Effect

I thought this might interest you....
Bolivia Bears Balloon Effect
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