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June 20, 2005

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24Seven Cop2Cop: News By, For & About Law Enforcement In the West
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Meet America's toughest sheriff: Joe Arpaio

 Meet Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one tough hombre with a no crap attitude. 24Seven recently had the pleasure of meeting Arpaio, considered by many to be the toughest sheriff in the U.S. Although not an overly popular man to some folks, especially the A.C.L.U and civil libertarians the world over, he is currently serving his fourth term as Sheriff for the largest county in the United States-proving that many do like his law and order style, shoot from the hip styl

Arpaio is not the least bit concerned about other people think, it’s the 3-? million people of Maricopa County, which clearly support him and his tough stance with criminals and crime. Arpaio made it clear that this is not a popularity contest with the inmates, "it is my job to deal with these individuals as I see fit," and he does. The Sheriff also went on to say, "everything I do, I do for a reason," and it doesn’t sit too well with many left leaning individuals, which does not concern him in the least.

When asked about his popularity with the inmates, he leaned back in his chair with a small smile on his face, paused for a moment and chuckled to himself. He eventually sat up, leaned on his desk and said, "I have had 12 death threats on my life, I used to have my wife start the car for me until we actually found a bomb under the vehicle. Now she doesn’t start the car anymore".

What makes Arpaio the toughest Sheriff in the states? Well to begin with, his view of his inmates. He does not want them to enjoy anything about their stay in his facilities. We had a chance to tour "Tent City" and it was clear that Arpaio had set some very tough rules and expectations for the inmates. From the green bologna sandwiches, to the pink underclothes, bedding and footwear that adorn their bodies and the pink sheets they sleep on at night, Arpaio does it for a reason. He was very articulate in explaining why he does what he does.

Although accused by some as trying to embarrass his inmates, Arpaio made it clear that this is not the case. He was losing lots of money when inmates would steal the clothing that they were issued. Well what an easy way to deal with it, change the color to pink and bang, no more theft of clothing. He also stopped television in his facilities until the courts ruled that the inmates can are entitled to it, "fine then, they now have the Disney Channel and the Weather Channel so they can see how hot it is going to be while out working on the chain gangs-or they can see how cold it is up north and they can move to Canada."

Another innovative and tough program instituted by the sheriff was his chain gangs. Although he started with male only chain gangs, he has now expanded that program to make him an equal opportunity employer by having the first female chain gang. Arpaio has gone even further now that he has started a young offenders chain gang. Again, everything is for a reason. The sheriff lives the old adage, "If you don’t want to do the time…don’t do the crime" which coincidentally can be seen in his office behind his desk.

Arpaio is one tough sheriff with a hard lined approach in dealing with his inmates. But who can argue with a man who has a recidivism rate of about 16% at Tent City vs. the national average of 85%. Well I guess left leaning liberals can and always will argue against this kind of treatment of inmates, simply because they can. As for the rest of us, keep up the great work Sheriff; it is a breath of fresh air to see inmates treated like inmates. They are treated fairly and firmly with limited rights as they sacrificed their rights when they violated the rights of their victims. So the next time that you talk to somebody about the unfair treatment of inmates, just ask them about the victim and their rights. We need more "Sheriff Joes" in this country for a little law and order -western style.

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