For those of you unfamiliar Joe Arpaio or “America’s Toughest Sheriff” as he liked to be called, he was the sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. He made quite the name for himself back in the day by treating prisoners like animals and flaunting his power. Among Arpaio’s many bad decisions was setting up a tent camp in Maricopa County to house prisoners, feeding them nothing more than bologna sandwiches, and making them all wear pink jumpsuits because reasons.
The rationale behind the tent camp was “if tents are good enough for soldiers on deployment, they’re good enough for prisoners”. I’m pretty sure the bologna sandwiches and pink jumpsuits were just for the lolz, though.
Those are Sheriff Arpaio’s more forgivable sins, though. Even though the area around his famous tent camp could hit well into the 106 degrees Farenheit – I’ve seen Phoenix hit 118 – it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Although, Joe himself did brag that the temperature inside one the tents could hit 145F in the summers and the fans may or may not have been working. What was among the worst things in the world was his abuse of power, misuse of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper clearance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, constant racial profiling, and election law violations. He reintroduced chain gangs, intimidated political opponents, and had guards that stood by and watched as a woman chained to a bed went into a diabetic coma and died.
In other words, he was (and still is) a pathetic racist shit bag with a mean streak and a strong lust for power. Toward the end of his tenure as iron-booted madman of Arizona, the DOJ took a good hard look into Arpaio’s dealings and found him guilty. At 80-something, Sheriff Joe was about to get a firsthand look at the Justice System he’d helped put in place.
Fortunately for Joe, Donald Trump pardoned him before he could get his own taste of justice.
Now, that’s all the bad news. Arpaio’s still an asshole, still free, and Trump still pardoned him. It’s all water under the bridge and there’s not much we can do about it now. But there is a light side to this story. Arpaio is no longer Sheriff of Maricopa County, he’s the Sheriff of his couch where he spends his free time yelling at Mexicans on his TV. The new Sheriff of Maricopa County, Paul Penzone, takes a different view of justice. Whereas Joe’s version of justice was punishing people a lot over every little offense, Penzone seems more interested in justice as a rehabilitation process.
The new Sheriff of Maricopa County is turning the old (and recently shut down) tent city into a facility for drug rehab with new sleeping spaces and classrooms. Penzone has an eye on the future; he’d rather see people leave the jail in better shape to cope with the world than when they went in.
Read about it here:
We Are The World Blogfest is a loosely organized group of like-minded bloggers all trying to shine a little light in the world. This month’s hosts are:
Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese, Guilie Castillo and Belinda Witzenhausen
So be sure to go check them out.
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And now, your moment of Zen