Opinion

A very bad man

A very bad man

We in the US have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately, what with a racist president and racist marches in the streets and a racist president pardoning a racist sheriff who was famous for his sadistic treatment of prisoners.

Let’s learn a little about that racist sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was elected six times to be sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, which includes the major city of Phoenix. Maybe you’re thinking he wasn’t such a bad guy? Maybe he deserved the pardon?

Valeria Fernández wrote in the Guardian a week ago:

For more than 20 years, Tent City stood within a larger jail compound in an industrial area 10 minutes south of downtown Phoenix. At its peak in the late 1990s, it comprised 82 Korean war-era military tents and housed 1,700 inmates.

Tents in the desert, where it gets rather warm; Phoenix at this moment is 42 degrees, and inside a tent it would be even hotter. There was no shade, because that was the whole point.

Despite multiple lawsuits from mistreated former prisoners, mounting public outrage and intense criticism from groups such as Amnesty International, which [condemned] the facility as inhumane, overcrowded and dangerous, the outdoor prison remained open. Even the justice department accused Arpaio of racially profiling Latinos on his patrols and denying prisoners basic human rights in his jails.

Basic human rights such as not being cooked alive.

For months at a time, inmates sentenced for minor crimes slept under the green cloth tents on bunk beds perched on large cement slabs on gravel. In the summer, temperatures inside could reach up to 54C (130F) in the dry Arizona heat. Though there was an indoor air-conditioned unit where detainees could shower and take sick relief from the heat, they weren’t allowed to sleep there.

Inmates were issued with pink underwear, pink sandals and used pink wet towels around their necks to ease the heat. The sheriff said he chose pink so prisoners wouldn’t try to steal them.

No, he chose pink because pink is a girly color, and Arpaio is the kind of guy who likes to humiliate men and insult women by calling men girly.

On cold days, temperatures reached as low as 5C (41F). Holes torn in the tents let in the wind and rain, drenching the beds. Valdez and other prisoners made ropes to hold the tent canvases together out of black trash bags they had been given as raincoats.

Inmates were forced to work on chain gangs – which, save for a few exceptions, had been abandoned by the US in 1955. Maricopa County ran the only all-female chain gang in the country.

Five years ago Sadhbh Walshe reported on Arapaio’s tent city in the Guardian.

Last weekend, during a protest rally at the jail organized by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Reverend Peter Morales, UUA’s president, was taken on a tour of the complex. Morales said the first thing that struck him was the oppressive wall of heat. At this time of year, temperatures inside the tent city reach up to 140º. There are no fans. Needless to say, there is no air conditioning.

Morales spoke to a few inmates during the tour and one of the issues they raised was the fact that they are not given enough time to refill their water containers. They also complain about the food. Inmates are fed only twice a day and Arpaio has boasted in the past of the food being rotten; green bologna is a specialty.

There is a provision in the much-heralded US constitution, known as the eight amendment, which is supposed to protect prisoners from being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. I’m no constitutional lawyer, but housing people in 140º temperatures without so much as a fan and limiting their access to drinking water sounds pretty cruel to me.

Not to mention only two meals a day and green bologna.

Arpaio is, in short, a cruel and merciless man, who takes pleasure in tormenting prisoners. He also violated a federal court order halting his unconstitutional immigration roundups, and as Esquire put it, he “did so gleefully, boastfully, publicly – daring federal authorities to do something about it.”

They did, in the end … and Donald Trump undid their work.

21 responses to “A very bad man”

  1. David Anderson says:

    “Let’s learn a little about that racist sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was elected six times to be sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, which includes the major city of Phoenix.”

    Obviously the voters of Maricopa County thought he was a straight-up kind if guy. Not surprising as it’s Arizona.

  2. Dianne Leonard says:

    Many of the inmates incarcerated in what Joe Arpaio called a “concentration camp” had not been found guilty of anything and were simply in jail awaiting trial, because they couldn’t afford money bail. Maricopa County, Arizona was not the only county in the US to keep such people in jail, often in deplorable conditions. It was, however, one of the only counties where people spoke out. The Arpaio abuses were well-known, esp in the Latino community, for years before the courts took an interest. Another abuse, which I just recently read about: one of Arpaio’s deputies almost broke a paraplegic inmate’s neck when the man asked for a catheter. That’s the kind of “human being” (so-called) Arpaio was.

  3. Rob Andrews says:

    So let’s put two and two together. Prisoners are working all day in 125 degree heat and are only fed twice daily.

    You burn more calories under such conditions!

  4. Yes, journalists have been reporting on Arpaio’s sadistic rule for years. There have been tv exposés as well as newspaper and magazine stories. He was notorious long before Trump got bigger ambitions.

  5. I thought I remembered that 60 Minutes had reported on him and sure enough – in 2001.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-footage-shows-arpaio-when-he-was-ruthless-joe-the-jailer/

    “60 Minutes profiled Arpaio in 2001, when he was eight years into his tenure as sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. At the time, correspondent Morley Safer called him a “big-time publicity hound” who had “become famous ’round the world as just about the meanest man in the West.”

    His reputation in 2001 was that of a tough-as-nails jailer who believed in punishment more than rehabilitation — and above all, in the humiliation of prisoners, reported Safer.

    The Phoenix jail 60 Minutes visited with Arpaio was something of tent city, comprised of old Korean War tents with nothing to assuage the Arizona heat beyond holes in the canvas. Arpaio bragged to Safer that he spent more money on food for the jailhouse dogs than for inmates.

    “They have to lose weight, too,” he said of the inmates. “They’re kind of heavy in there. I don’t see anybody dying around here.””

  6. Daz says:

    “I don’t see anybody dying around here.”

    Christ. If he wanted to set the bar any lower he’d have to dig a bleedin’ trench for it.

  7. L.Long says:

    The sheriff is a nothing low life…what was pardoned was the behavior of the low life ahole voters who thought this was all just A-OK!!! The sheriff is a symbol of the evil aholes who kept him in power!

  8. John the Drunkard says:

    And, in Arizona, his sadistic behavior made him fully electable for two decades. What changed to the point where he could lose his bid in a county that Trump won?

  9. Perhaps better organizing by opponents – perhaps the fact that by then he’d been charged with a crime – perhaps both.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/2016-election-day/arizona-sheriff-joe-arpaio-loses-re-election-bid-7th-term-n680961

  10. Eric says:

    If you are an atheist why use the word Jesus? Hypocrite

  11. Cali Ron says:

    Eric: Who used the word Jesus? I saw Christ used as a cus word and so what? For christians that usage is a sin, so where’s the hypocrisy.

    Quite pathetic of you to read this and the only thing worth commenting on was that. Let me guess, you’re a born again believer in the sky fairy? Or as we like to say here a religious nutter.

  12. Cali Ron says:

    According to the Daily Kos Joe has cost the country over 200 million dollars in lawsuits and legal fees. Other estimates have gone as high as 400 million dollars. I think he litigated himself out of a job. No worries though, the geniuses in Arizona have cut educational spending to keep the locals dumb and pliable. So don’t expect the electoral dysfunction to get better any time soon.

  13. Eric says:

    Cali ron i called u hypocrite cause ur Atheist who uses christian words. Each cuss is a sin and ur fire grows more for hell that u think is fake. Our book is real. Speaking of fairy tales…..something from nothing lol, evolution, and bb theory. Just a stupid tv show. Ur views are just as fake. But ours is real. Pascals wager….what a joke.

  14. Daz says:

    Eric, here ya go mate. They’ll sort you out, no worries.

  15. Cali Ron says:

    Daz: LOL! Eric seems a little more unhinged than the usual christian troll. Must be ‘high on Jesus ‘.

    Eric : I used Jesus so your claim is now true after the fact. You must be a prophet. You predicted the future. So am I and I predict you will die someday and be gone forever, no heaven or hell. Cheers!

  16. Eric says:

    Love how u need to say lol in all caps. U dont know what happens after death. We do. Thats why u will literally burn forever. Again we got a moron who copies what others said b4 him……troll and high on Jesus. U hypocrite. So men are ape huhh…sounds like u need the help lol. GOT MILK? GOT MEDS? Why is ape here? No way we came from an ape_man from millions yrs ago. LOL LOL . go support ur gay rites.

  17. Eric says:

    Daz ur the medicated one…..men from ape and men are ape. Lol. Hitchins is bitchin in hell. Funny how to this day only bible explains HOW planets, stars, sun, moon, and man came from. Stupid smart guys like dawkins and u atheists say bs like “i like not knowing” and “nobody knows”. Lol. When the truth is here. Yet u jump on the sad atheist bandwagen where ALL members are smart. But there are many dumb atheists out there lol. Proof that u atheists are sinners…..ur addicted (sin) to internet forums. How sad. And u bash believers online (sin)

  18. Barry Duke says:

    Eric, you are a god-fucked imbecile troll. Consider yourself banned.

  19. Daz says:

    Well, now we know what a cross between a stream of consciousness and a stream of hogwash looks like. Thanks Eric, old chap.

    Eric, or, Little by Little

  20. Damn, I missed the fun!