There’s a quote attributed to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Back in 2009, he reportedly told an interviewer, “I don’t bow down to the federal government.” Joe apparently took his own advice, but it’s landed him in a heap of trouble.
Arpaio has a history of what have been called “brash” techniques. They include making inmates wear pink underwear, showing live videos of inmates in jail (including a female inmate filmed on the toilet), establishing “tent city”, and other tactics designed, Joe said, to show the “bad guys” the jail conditions in Maricopa County. These acts led to several court orders barring some of the conduct; an $8 million judgment involving the wrongful death of an inmate; a ruling that the conditions in Arpaio’s jails were unconstitutional; and a ruling that the videos violated the rights of pre-trial detainees.
But the issue that Joe was really passionate about, and the one that eventually landed him in hot agua, was the profiling of Latinos. After the court ruled that the practice was illegal, and issued an order prohibiting Arpaio from engaging in it, racial profiling continued. Joe, who apparently believed he was the law enforcement equivalent of John Gotti (the so-called “Teflon Don”), decided that he was going to ignore the federal judge’s order, and actively encouraged his officers to do the same. He was eventually charged with criminal contempt of court, and was also defeated at the polls.
So (now) private citizen Joe Arpaio went on trial on the criminal contempt charge, and last week, after a bench (non-jury) trial, he was convicted. The conviction was not much of a surprise to those who followed it, since the most damning evidence consisted of quotes from Arpaio’s own mouth. He faces up to six months in jail.
So long, Joe
Sure, Joe is 85 years old, and you might have the inclination to feel sorry for him. Before you do, we’ll give you just a few of many reasons why your pity might be misplaced. Joe Arpaio basically criminalized being Latino in Arizona; he encouraged random, unlawful detention of Latinos; he encouraged racial profiling; and his infamous “immigration sweeps” led to many illegal arrests, including that of a 6-year old child. The list could go on and on.
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