“America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio

He's known as “America's Toughest Sheriff,” Joe Arpaio spoke at a Mission Valley hotel Thursday evening covering a variety of topics including immigration and border security. Friday morning he joined KUSI's Dan Plante and Alexis DelChiaro on Good Morning San Diego to talk further about his operations and stances on controversial topics.

Joseph M. “Joe” Arpaio is the elected Sheriff of Maricopa County in the U.S. state of Arizona. Arpaio is known as “America's Toughest Sheriff.” He is well known for his outspoken stance against illegal immigration. Arpaio has become a flashpoint for controversy surrounding Arizona's anti-illegal immigration act.

Arpaio has become controversial for aggressive publicity-seeking, retaliation against political enemies, abuse of power, civil rights violations, and financial mismanagement.

Arpaio set-up a “Tent City” as an extension of the Maricopa County Jail. The “Tent City” is located in a yard next to a more permanent structure containing toilets, showers, and an area for meals. He has described the “Tent City” as a concentration camp and it has become notable particularly because of Phoenix's extreme temperatures.

Inmates at “Tent City” are famously forced to wear pink underwear and are served spoiled food and their meals are limited to twice daily. Arpaio has also banned inmates from possessing “sexually explicit material” including Playboy magazine.

During the summer of 2003, when outside temperatures exceeded 110 °F (43 °C), Arpaio said to complaining inmates, “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.”

Tent City is criticized by groups contending that there are violations of human and constitutional rights. Those critical of Arpaio also point out that the vast majority of inmates within Tent City have not been convicted; rather, they are merely awaiting trial. Arpaio's claim that these inmates committed crimes, they argue, reflects Arpaio's contempt for the American Constitution and the explicit right it grants to a “presumption of innocence.”

Arpaio is currently the subject of FBI, United States Department of Justice, and Federal Grand Jury investigations for civil rights violations and abuse of power, and is the defendant in a federal class-action suit for racial profiling.

Categories: KUSI