“I’m looking toward being the first person in the world to put juveniles on a chain gang.”
These are the words of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, which is where Phoenix, Arizona is located. Arpaio is the controversial subject of a U.S. Justice Department investigation for civil rights abuses. He is unapologetically tough on crime and is one of the law enforcement officials who not only agrees with Arizona’s new immigration law, he is delighted to have the opportunity to implement it. He reportedly said that he was not going to wait until the day after the bill took effect, he was going to start the second after midnight.
Arpaio is not worried about overcrowded jails. He simply puts up tent cities where inmates must live in 100 degree-plus temperatures. He tells those who protest the tent cities as inhumane: “It’s 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents, have to wear full body armor, and they didn’t commit any crimes, so shut your mouths.” He also refers to his tent cities as his “concentration camps.”
The chain gangs are volunteer in that they are the only way prisoners can earn special privileges. Besides literally chaining them together, dressing them in black and white striped jumpsuits and putting them out on public display, Arpaio is also fond of making the inmates wear touches of pink. The female inmates might not mind, but it is clearly a tactic designed to humiliate the male inmates. He also instituted the use of pink handcuffs, which I assume he had to have specially made.
I realize that there are people who think that almost nothing is too brutal for convicted criminals, but what about the fact that some of the inmates are not convicted, but are awaiting trial?
One of Arpaio’s innovations has been to use civilian posses to search for and detain illegal immigrants. He insists that they don’t do any racial profiling, despite the fact that they conduct sweeps in Hispanic neighborhoods.