The Best/Worst of Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio
As the Department of Justice’s investigation has shown, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s discriminatory practices and abuses of power have made him a Bull Connor for the 21st century. Below are some of the highlights—or rather, lowlights—of Arpaio’s career: terrorizing immigrants and detainees such as the mother he forced to give birth in shackles; abusing power and embracing corruption, including misusing $100 million in taxpayer money to fund his own pet projects; and ignoring serious crime in his county, including letting over 400 sex crimes cases go uninvestigated.
April 2008: Over 40,000 Un-Served Felony Warrants
In an interview with Arpaio, an Arizona Republic reporter pointed out that the county had over 40,000 unserved felony warrants, and quoted Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon saying that Arpaio had created “a sanctuary county” for felons.
June 2008: 2,700 Lawsuits Filed Against Arpaio
Between 2004 and 2007, 2,700 lawsuits were filed against Sheriff Joe Arpaio in federal and county courts – 50 times the number of suits filed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston combined.
October 2008: Arpaio Stages Phony Murder Plot Against Himself, Accused Released for Wrongful Imprisonment, County Pays Over $1 Million to Settle
In 2004 a man was released from prison after being wrongly accused of plotting to kill Arpaio. Evidence suggested that Arpaio’s office staged the plot and the County agreed to pay over $1 million to settle the case. The County’s insurance policy paid an additional un-released amount.
October 2008: Judge Says Conditions in Arpaio’s Jails “Violate the Constitution”
A federal judge ruled in October 2008 that Sheriff Arpaio and county health officials “violated the Constitution by depriving jail inmates of adequate medical screening and care, feeding them unhealthy food and housing them in unsanitary conditions.”
November 2009: Arpaio Forces Mother to Give Birth while Handcuffed to Bed
In a story reported by Telemundo in 2009, Sheriff Arpaio forced Alma Minerva Chacon to give birth while she was in shackles. Following the birth, Chacon was told that unless someone came to pick up the newborn in 72 hours, her child would be turned over to state custody.
December 2009: Arpaio Under FBI Investigation for Using his Power to Intimidate Political Opponents
After Arpaio and a political ally attempted to indict local officials they saw as enemies, the FBI launched an investigation into whether Arpaio was abusing his position to target his opponents. As local TV station KPHO reported: “The merit of the charges” Arpaio filed against opponents “are lost on a public who is becoming increasingly cynical of the persecution of political foes in Maricopa County even for a local folk hero like Arpaio.”
October 2010: Violent Crime Rates Rise Under Arpaio, Fall in Rest of Arizona
From 2002 to 2009, the rate of violent crime across the state of Arizona fell by 12%, and cities within Maricopa County saw significant decreases as well. Areas policed by Arpaio’s sheriff’s office, however, increased by 58% during this time. Meanwhile, 911 response times in Maricopa County increased significantly.
April 2011: Arpaio Suspected of Misspending $100M in Taxpayer Funds, Refuses to Turn Over Records
An investigation into the Maricopa County sheriff’s office discovered that Arpaio, the Bull Connor reincarnate of immigration enforcement, inappropriately spent $99.5 million from two jail funds over the last eight years to pay for other law enforcement operations—including immigration patrols. When the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors met to discuss the investigation, Arpaio didn’t attend—he was busy leading an immigration raid on a dry cleaners in Mesa.
May 2011: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Is Too Busy Chasing Immigrants to Investigate 400 Sex Crime Cases
ABC 12 News in Arizona reported that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) failed to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crime cases over a two-year period, many of which involved children from 2 to 16 years old. Many of these victims were the children of undocumented immigrants. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Arpaio was so uninterested in investigating cases when immigrants were the victims instead of the perpetrators: as Arpaio once told Larry King, his deputies arrest “very few” non-Hispanics.
July 2011: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Settles $200k in Racial Profiling Case
Arpaio paid $200,000 in a settlement to Julian and Julio Mora, a father and son who his agents zip-tied and held for three hours during a 2009 raid of the Phoenix landscaping firm Handyman Maintenance Inc., where the father worked.
America’s Voice Education Fund Fact Sheet on Sheriff Arpaio’s Notorious Record
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