by John Hawkins | March 1, 2005 3:48 am
Joe Arpaio is called “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and that’s too bad. I say that because if every jail in America were run like this, I suspect that we’d have a significantly lower crime rate….
“Sheriff Joe Arpaio has banned smoking, coffee, pornographic magazines, movies, and unrestricted television in all his jails. Those incarcerated in his tent city jail do indeed work on chain gangs, pulling weeds for the city and county, clearing brush, and the like. In 1996 the Sheriff put the nation’s first female chain gang to work….he chose that course of action because it suited his beliefs: “I don’t believe in discrimination in my jail system. Crime knows no gender and neither should punishment,” he said.
Regarding the claim about airing a Newt Gingrich lecture series on the jail’s television system, in 1995 the controversial lawman used canteen funds to buy the Republican House speaker’s 10-part, $150 video lecture series with the intent of piping it into the inmates’ cells. When asked if he’d also be providing those in his charge with a lecture series done by a Democrat, he replied in the negative. “For one thing I don’t know of any,” he said. “And some people might say these guys already got enough of those ideas.”
He is also proud of having lowered the cost of feeding inmates in his care. Though assorted news articles quote slightly differing figures, a 40¢ per serving expenditure is the one most often touted. “It costs more to feed our police dogs than our inmates. The dogs never committed a crime, and they’re working for a living,” Arpaio said.
In 1998 Arpaio instituted a policy of charging inmates for their meals, levying a dollar-a-day tariff against each of those incarcerated. In 1994 he banned coffee from the Maricopa County Jail, but he did so not because of its lack of nutritional value, but to protect inmates and guards from hot-coffee assaults by other inmates and to lower costs. (By eliminating the estimated 5,000 cups of coffee served daily for 5,400 inmates, it was expected the county would save $94,158 a year.)
…It is on record, however, that inmates in his charge view only selected programming, such as what’s on The Weather Channel. (“I think my chain gang deserves to know how hot it is when they hit the streets,” said Arpaio.) “
Hat tip to Knowledge Is Power for the pic.
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