crime never pays
"Meet Joe Arpaio, my favorite High Sheriff...also a fave in Arizona's Maricopa County... where voters have been re-electing him by wide margins since 1992."

My favorite sheriff:
He has jailed reporters,
upset judges, been sued
by cons, and soon to be
Fox TV reality show...



Joe Knows?

Crime victims love Sheriff Joe Arpaio;
Social do-gooders hate his guts;
Arizona voters keep re-electing him...

Sheriff Joe is a reality show waiting to happen.

Meet Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He thrives on controversy. The gent runs a jail in Arizona's Maricopa County. His jurisdiction includes the city of Phoenix, a beautiful municipality with all the usual big-city crime problems. Add to that an hourly influx of illegals flooding across the Rio Grande border, and...well, call Sheriff Joe.

Sheriff Joe has a humongous capacity for attracting controversy. It stems from his unorthodox way of housing arrestees who have either been convicted or are awaiting trial. Street cops love Joe. Prosecutors should. No one can say that inmates run Joe's jail. He gives "hard time" a reality meaning.

Set the scene: A Maricopa County prosecutor convinces a jury that Mr. Defendant is guilty. The jury convicts him. Enter hard time - Sheriff Joe style. The guilty verdict is the criminal's ticket to Sheriff Joe's Tent City Jail - where temperatures average in the 90s and top out at around 120. Social do-gooders are offended, but taxpayer/voters of Maricopa County are not.

Maricopa County jail cells are painted pink. Inmates get clean jump suits - and underwear. His budget must pay, so Sheriff Joe makes them a pretty pink.

pink shirts Sheriff Joe's charges. The male chain gang division caused talk that women were being discriminated against. So, the High Sheriff created a female unit to work on highway upkeep and county farms. For the record, both units wear pretty pink underwear. True to traditional prisoner lore, his work gang cons wear prison stripes, black and white, much as southern chain gangs wore in the early 20th Century. The modern gangs work on farms, county roadsides, and other public properties. Perps can work on a county-owned produce and meat farm or tend to dogs rescued and stashed in a pound run by the sheriff. Animal shelters are staffed by prisoners to provide twice-daily dog walks.

Jail inmates spend rap time eating Sheriff Joe's specialty: 30 -40-cent meals.
tent jail
Sheriff Joe's idea of air conditioning in his tent jail: roll up the side flaps of the tents.
Two meals a day - and lots of bologna. On top of that, he bills cons for the fare - at $1.25 per meal. As for trying to pull TV as an unnecessary luxury, Sheriff Joe had to bite into a distasteful federal ruling. It seems a fed edict gives prisoners the right to have cable television. The right? Where does it say THAT in the Constitution? So be it. Sheriff Joe complied, but the ruling said nothing about who controls the clicker. Sheriff Joe's cons get two channels: Disney and the Weather Channel. Why the Weather Channel? So the inmates will know how hot it is when they are working. Go Joe!

In Joe's jails, there is no smoking. Porno magazines are not permitted. Even coffee is banned. Sheriff Joe says there is no nutritional value in coffee, joe.

For unusual punishment, Sheriff Joe once ordered Newt Gingrich's right wing video lecture series piped in for prisoner "enjoyment."

Media sorts call Sheriff Joe a publicity hound. So, let me count the ways, but he is always an advocate for the people - uppercase that to The People.

How's all this playing with his county voters? The last time on the ballot he won Maricopa County with more than 80 percent of the vote. My question: Why haven't other counties in this country adopted the Arpaio Program?

A post thought on my own cases: After my first six (of twenty) years as a prosecutor, I stopped tallying cumulative sentences for my defendants once I hit 4,556 years. Using a modified Arpaio Program in my county, I wonder how much could have been saved for the taxpayers.

lady justice EDITOR'S NOTE: C. A. Nix has a prosecutor's awareness. She has a prosecutor's perspective. In all she writes, she represents the People of the United States of America.
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© 2009 C.A. Nix