Allegations against this Sheriff Arpaio guy

Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikipedia.

Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikipedia.

Speaking of Trump supporters… I don’t know this Sheriff Arpaio guy from Adam’s off ox, but this release from the state Democratic Party at least lets me know what is allegedly wrong with him.

Consider the source all you like, but it’s quite a list:

Columbia, SC – The South Carolina Democratic Party released the following statement today on the announcement by Rep. Jeff Duncan that racist Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be a “special guest,” alongside Rep. Mick Mulvaney, at Duncan’s Faith & Freedom BBQ next Monday in Anderson:
“The fact that Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney would honor a racist and sexist bigot like Joe Arpaio is disgusting, but given their support of a racist and sexist bigot like Donald Trump for president, it is not surprising.
“Pasted below is a list of 10 of Joe Arpaio’s policies, taken from a 2012 article by Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress based on a U.S. Department of Justice legal complaint.  We are interested in hearing which of these policies Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney believe are appropriate.”
1. Forcing Women To Sleep In Their Own Menstrual Blood: In Arpaio’s jails, “female Latino LEP prisoners have been denied basic sanitary items. In some instances, female Latino LEP prisoners have been forced to remain with sheets or pants soiled from menstruation because of MCSO’s failure to ensure that detention officers provide language assistance in such circumstances.”

2. Assaulting Pregnant Women: “[A]n MCSO officer stopped a Latina woman – a citizen of the United States and five months pregnant at the time – as she pulled into her driveway. After she exited her car, the officer then insisted that she sit on the hood of the car. When she refused, the officer grabbed her arms, pulled them behind her back, and slammed her, stomach first, into the vehicle three times. He then dragged her to the patrol car and shoved her into the backseat. He left her in the patrol car for approximately 30 minutes without air conditioning. The MCSO officer ultimately issued a citation for failure to provide identification.”

3. Stalking Latino Women: “In another instance, during a crime suppression operation, two MCSO officers followed a Latina woman, a citizen of the United States, for a quarter of a mile to her home. The officers did not turn on their emergency lights, but insisted that the woman remain in her car when she attempted to exit the car and enter her home. The officers’ stated reasons for approaching the woman was a non-functioning license plate light. When the woman attempted to enter her home, the officers used force to take her to the ground, kneed her in the back, and handcuffed her. The woman was then taken to an MCSO substation, cited for ‘disorderly conduct,’ and returned home. The disorderly conduct citation was subsequently dismissed.”

4. Criminalizing Being A Latino: “During raids, [Arpaio’s Criminal Enforcement Squad] typically seizes all Latinos present, whether they are listed on the warrant or not. For example, in one raid CES had a search warrant for 67 people, yet 109 people were detained. Fifty-nine people were arrested and 50 held for several hours before they were released. Those detained, but not on the warrant, were seized because they were Latino and present at the time of the raid. No legal justification existed for their detention.”

5. Criminalizing Living Next To The Wrong People: “[D]uring a raid of a house suspected of containing human smugglers and their victims . . . officers went to an adjacent house, which was occupied by a Latino family. The officers entered the adjacent house and searched it, without a warrant and without the residents’ knowing consent. Although they found no evidence of criminal activity, after the search was over, the officers zip-tied the residents, a Latino man, a legal permanent resident of the United States, and his 12-year-old Latino son, a citizen of the United States, and required them to sit on the sidewalk for more than one hour, along with approximately 10 persons who had been seized from the target house, before being released”

6. Ignoring Rape: Because of Arpaio’s obsessive focus on “low-level immigration offenses” his officers failed “to adequately respond to reports of sexual violence, including allegations of rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse of girls.”

7. Widespread Use Of Racial Slurs: “MCSO personnel responsible for prisoners held in MCSO jails routinely direct racial slurs toward Latino prisoners, including calling Latino prisoners ‘paisas,’ ‘wetbacks,’ ‘Mexican bitches,’ ‘fucking Mexicans,’ and ‘stupid Mexicans.’”

8. Widespread Racial Profiling: “[I]n the southwest portion of the County, the study found that Latino drivers are almost four times more likely to be stopped by MCSO officers than non-Latino drivers engaged in similar conduct. . . . In the northwest portion of the County, the study found that Latino drivers are over seven times more likely to be stopped by MCSO officers than non-Latino drivers engaged in similar conduct. . . . Most strikingly, in the northeast portion of the County, the study found that Latino drivers are nearly nine times more likely to be stopped by MCSO officers than non-Latino drivers engaged in similar conduct.”

9. Random, Unlawful Detention Of Latinos: “MCSO officers stopped a car carrying four Latino men, although the car was not violating any traffic laws. The MCSO officers ordered the men out of the car, zip-tied them, and made them sit on the curb for an hour before releasing all of them. The only reason given for the stop was that the men’s car ‘was a little low,’ which is not a criminal or traffic violation.”

10. Group Punishments For Latinos: “In some instances, when a Latino [Low English Proficiency] prisoner has been unable to understand commands given in English, MCSO detention officers have put an entire area of the jail in lockdown—effectively preventing all the prisoners in that area from accessing a number of privileges because of the Latino LEP prisoner’s inability to understand English, inciting hostility toward the LEP prisoner, and potentially placing MCSO officers and other prisoners in harm’s way.”


40 thoughts on “Allegations against this Sheriff Arpaio guy

  1. Karen Pearson

    The allegations against Sheriff Arpaio are serious enough that the courts have stepped in and severely curtailed his policies.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    Just to quibble a bit, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9 seem more like allegations of police misconduct, not policies. As for those issues, maybe they need better training and leadership. The best thing I heard from our local law enforcement was “We need to move from a warrior mentality to a guardian mentality”.


    1 and 10 seem to be problems that arise from language barriers. I would assume that when a significant portion of your inmates speak a language other than English, you would have to have the guards also speak that language. If they don’t have sufficient Spanish-speaking guards, they need to get some more. This seems like a simple fix, no?

    6 and 8 seem to be be the closest to “policies”, but I’d like to know more about why rapes aren’t being investigated. “Ignoring” it seems a bit far-fetched.

    7 – Guards using bad language in jails to inmates? I’m shocked. Where’s my fainting couch?

    1. Doug Ross

      I agree with Bryan. A lot of sensationalizing of incidents. Are we to assume that Leon Lott is a racist because one of his employees threw a black girl out of a chair?

      As for the inability to speak English being a barrier to getting proper treatment in jail, I can’t dredge about much concern. There is a solution that doesn’t put the burden on the state to fund bilingual officers. Learn English if you want to live in the U.S. That is one of the supposed requirements for amnesty for illegals, right? The fact that any tax dollars are used to deal with this is unfortunate.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And of course, I disagree. It’s a liability for deputies not to understand the language of many of their prisoners. You can talk about how they SHOULD speak English all day. The fact is, many don’t. And when you have a policy of going out of your way to arrest Hispanics regardless of the situation, having so many Hispanic prisoners is your fault.

        At the very least, you’d want your deputies to understand it if a prisoner is screaming, “If you come in my cell, I’m gonna split your head open against the wall!” Or, “As soon as I catch the guy in the next cell alone, I’m going to stab him with the shiv under my mattress!”

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Yeah, I have to say that I agree. You can’t effectively be a guard for inmates if you can’t communicate with them. Think about the medical issues alone.

          If an inmate gets appendicitis, you have to be able to understand that he’s saying “My side is hurting, I feel pain in my abdomen, get a doctor.”

          I’m not saying prisons should be hotels, and I don’t really have a problem with making the prisoners work, but you do have to be able to communicate with them. That’s just basic, right?

        2. Doug Ross

          So these are people who a) apparently weren’t born in the U.S. and never attended any U.S. public schools b) entered the U.S. legally at some point in the recent past – not long enough ago to spend any time to learn basic English and c) ended up in jail during that short time. And we need to make accommodations for THEM to make THEIR life easier?

          No bueno.

          1. Doug Ross

            Making the decision to enter the U.S. legally should be predicated on the understanding that you will learn English. Is that really too much to ask?

            When I walk around my neighborhood where there is a lot of new construction going on, it’s pretty obvious that the brick layers don’t speak a lick of English. I asked a small group of them one time if they had a piece of rope I could borrow when my dog’s leash broke on our walk. All I got was shrugs and blank stares. Not a single one spoke english… so I was left to do a mime routine. I try not to even think about whether they are legally in the U.S. or not…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “Making the decision to enter the U.S. legally should be predicated on the understanding that you will learn English. Is that really too much to ask?”

              Here’s the thing…

              They need to learn English for their own good, not for our convenience. (I would think a libertarian and friend of Ayn Rand would understand that intuitively.)

              If you want to make it in this country, you’ll need English. And I think most immigrants (legal or otherwise) understand that. Because just as it’s a fact that some of our neighbors speak only Spanish, it’s also a fact that most of the rest of us are NOT going to become fluent in Spanish.

              That said, it is a LONG-standing fact that immigrants to this country tend to struggle with the language in the first generation (try learning a new language as an adult — it ain’t easy), while their kids become fluent. And the grandchildren don’t even know the old language.

              Dealing practically with the fact that a lot of our neighbors speak Spanish and struggle with English just makes sense. It certainly isn’t something to resent and fume about.

              The point here is dealing with the world as it is, not as you think it SHOULD be. (Gosh, how many times did Cindi Scoppe tell me THAT when we debated issues having to do with the Legislature?)

          2. Bryan Caskey

            “And we need to make accommodations for THEM to make THEIR life easier?”

            Hiring some spanish-speakin’ guards is a problem? Seems like if I was the prison warden, I’d want to be able to communicate with my inmates.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              “Making the decision to enter the U.S. legally should be predicated on the understanding that you will learn English. Is that really too much to ask?”

              Objection. You’re moving the goalposts on me.

              We were having a conversation about whether American jails should provide guards who speak the language of the inmates. Presently, there is no legal requirement that someone immigrating to the USA speak English. Sure, it’s probably a good idea, but it’s not legally required. Assuming, arguendo, that such a law existed, I’d have no problem with one language jails. However, that’s not the law.

              So…under the current circumstances and laws as they currently exist: Do you or do you not think that jails should have guards who speak the language of the inmates?

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                How, exactly, would that be enforced? Suppose you have to arrest a guy who speaks only Spanish. What do you do when he fails to suddenly speak English because you tell him he should (in a language that he doesn’t understand)?

                I know! You tell him that you’re sorry, but since he refuses to speak English, you just can’t keep him, and he’ll have to leave…

                Or hand him a card that says, “Dado que usted se niega a hablar Inglés, que no puede quedarse aquí. Vas a tener que ir a casa!

                (If that’s not right, blame Google Translate. My Spanish skills aren’t what they were when I was a kid.)

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  If, by telling him he has to go home, you mean to his country of origin (which is what many are thinking when they say, “Learn English!”, I think you would have to say “a la patria” or “a su país” instead of “a casa.”

                  I think. I’m not sure…

              2. Doug Ross

                No, I don’t think we should make it a rule to hire guards who speak the language of the inmates. And let’s be clear – we’re only talking about one other language, right? Has there been an issue with prisoners who only speak Chinese? Hebrew? Swahili?

                Oh, you mean there aren’t as many prisoners who speak those languages? Hmmm… why would that be? Well, certainly there’s been an influx of people who only speak Spanish. Many of those people are here illegally and, in those cases, shouldn’t be in prison long enough to require a guard who speaks Spanish. They should be deported to a country with prisons that have Spanish speaking guards. And if those countries don’t want their criminal citizens back, then maybe we should accept fewer of the legal ones…

                I have plenty of Indian friends here on visas who managed to learn English BEFORE they got here. Maybe not fluent, but enough to understand a prison guard. What’s different about them? They come from impoverished areas too.

                The more accommodations we provide, the easier it is for those here legally to avoid their responsibilities.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Hey, imagine if instead of hiring bilingual guards, we played english lessons on the tv’s in prison? Talk about a captive audience.

          3. Karen Pearson

            So you’re comfortable that any American in a foreign country who is arrested for whatever reason will be expected to speak the language of the country, and that it’s ok to neglect, abuse, or deny them their civil rights if they can’t? Never mind if there’s someone available who could translate; they needn’t be called.

      2. Pat

        The leader is responsible for the worki culture of those employees who are under him.
        As for the officer in the school incident, the school administration is responsible for that escalation; SROs should not be called for that sort of situation.

  3. Claus

    God forbid we treat criminals like criminals. This is the only sheriff in the country that knows the proper term of “hard labor”. Inmates who are in his jail realize that they’re not in a taxpayer supported resort where it’s fine to lay around and have meals brought to you. It’s a shame that every jail in the country isn’t run like his.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Treat criminals like criminals?” Really? That’s what you got out of that?

      I won’t ask you to go read the whole list again. Just go read number five. What was the crime of those next-door neighbors? Being Hispanic?

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Number five sounds like a good faith basis for a civil suit. Obviously, we don’t know all the facts, and the account provided here is likely one-sided, but I still think the law enforcement would have a tough time explaining why detaining these neighbors was necessary.

        The lawyer in me reads these and thinks…if this is what happened, why has no one brought a civil suit?

        Everyone hates on lawyers until the cops start pulling things like this, am I right Juan?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Playing devil’s advocate — they probably would say they were doing what they had to to control a volatile situation.

          Because, you know, Hispanic people are so dangerous — right, Donald?

        2. Pat

          Lawyers do get dumped on…until you need one. As for not bringing suit, I can think of a lot of reasons for not bringing a suit: intimidation, not wanting to call attention to themselves, not familiar with the system, afraid of the cost, not knowing how to choose the right lawyer…

        3. Michael Bramson

          What makes you think that there haven’t been civil suits? According to The Arizona Republic, lawsuits against him and his office have cost the county $142 million since he took office in 1993.

          And since it’s a bit obscured in the press release, it’s worth repeating that the quotations in each of the numbered points above are taken from a US Department of Justice legal complaint against the sheriff and his office from 2012. It’s not just the SC Democratic Party drumming up controversy.

      2. Claus

        Well they can’t all be coddled like prisoners in the Richland County jail, where everyone gets a turn running the television remote and the consensus is that 72 degrees is the ideal temperature to take naps in.

        #5, searches happen every week around the country at wrong addresses. Just be glad that nobody or the dog didn’t get shot like in other wrong locations. I’ve read the paragraph twice, there’s not a whole lot of information there that isn’t emotion based. What was the reasoning for the cops to go next door and enter without a warrant? You’d think at least one person there would realize they didn’t have a warrant to search the property, and whatever was found would be inadmissable evidence in any court.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Spend a lot of time in jails and prisons, have you? I have — or I did back during my reporting days (which was a while back, admittedly).

          There was never a time when I wasn’t eager to get back out in the open air. It was like visiting hell. I could easily see why they confiscated inmate’s belts and shoelaces. Such places are made for instilling despair…

          1. Tex

            Well on Trailer Park Boys it doesn’t appear to be that bad. Smoking dope, drinking with the guards, just hanging out watching tv…

  4. Lynn Teague

    Having lived in Arizona 30 years I’m familiar with Arpaio’s history. These particular allegations are the tip of an ugly iceberg. He housed prisoners in tents in the 110+ degree heat and found other ways to inflict gratuitous misery, as a matter of policy. A search of the Arizona Republic archives would tell you a lot more than the list above.

    1. Claus

      I have family members who live in Arizona who say just the opposite. Convicts are treated like convicts. 110+ heat in Arizona is not 110+ heat in South Carolina. If you’re not in direct sunlight it’s not much worse than mid-80’s in South Carolina. He makes his prisoners wear pink colored clothing (gasp), he doesn’t allow them to sit around all day in an air conditioned building watching television (oh the horror). The Arizona Republic is slightly less liberal bent than USA Today.

      1. Claus

        Also, they have these things in AZ that spray a fine mist and the water evaporates before hitting the ground. It’ll drop a shady spot about 10 degrees or more. You see in Arizona, they try to increase the humidity level when it gets hot.

        1. Lynn Teague

          Arpaio’s tents had no cooling mechanism, and yes I’m familiar with mist systems. As to 110+ = mid 80’s, feel free to give that a try, in the sun, for a few hours. Nonsense. When I lived in the Sonoran Desert for decades, working outside as an archaeologist, we recognized those “dry heat” comments as the product of people who spent most of their time in the air conditioning. And yes I’m aware that there are plenty of people in Arizona who think treating prisoners with brutality is great. I was never one of them.

  5. Kathleen

    I’ve lived in a border county. Natives (Anglo and Hispanic) usually speak and understand Spanish and English, even though they may be more fluent in one. You have a hard time landing a public contact job without Spanish. A sheriff in that part of the country would have to work at stocking his jail with English only guards; it’s deliberate.

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