Friday, March 30, 2012

So Who Is America’s Toughest Sheriff?

            Joe Arpaio is the Sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. He is known to be “America’s Toughest Sheriff” coined by the media. He has been the Sheriff since 1992 and has some critics who think his beliefs are either inhumane and others approve of his methods. His methods include chain gangs that clean the streets, bury the indigent in the cemetery, paint over graffiti and work with an animal shelter. At the animal shelter, the inmates train the dogs, give them shots and learn about caring for animals. They also train the public in caring for animals and the total cost for shots and adoption is very cheap.
            Instead of hiring citizens to clean up the community, they are having the inmates do the work. Some think this is to make the prisoners not want to come back because of the work that needs to be done. Along with the work that has to be done, they also live outside in military tents. It gets up to 120 degrees in the tents, so the work that is done is almost a blessing. The idea of the tents being as the living arrangements was that if the men and women who are in the services can do it, criminals can too.
            It is not only men who are apart of these chain gangs. They are also the first to have a women and juvenile chain gang. The belief for the juvenile chain gang is a sense of deterrence at a young age.
            Joe cut costs and freedoms in many ways. He completely banned coffee, salt and pepper, pornographic magazines, smoking and TV. However, there is a law that all prisons must have cable, so Joe’s idea was to only allow two channels. The channels are the Weather Channel and the Disney Channel. The Weather Channel is to see how hot it will be when they are working outside and the Disney Channel is so they aren’t entertained. I don’t agree with the idea of having the Disney Channel on because there are sex offenders in this prison and it might be feeding into their minds.
            The inmates have to pay for their meals, so they use the little money they earn from doing work. The meals cost around 15-40 cents and are only fed twice a day. By the prison not buying salt and pepper, they save $20,000 a year. These prisons offer the cheapest meals in the U.S. and are saving the taxpayers a lot of money.
            Arpaio noticed there was a shortage of underwear through out the prison. So to make the inmates not want to steal would be to dye them pink. I think it is used for humiliation and it was also said for inventory control. Along with the pink underwear, the handcuffs were becoming more and more scarce. So they ordered pink handcuffs, so they wouldn’t want to keep them.
            Just like in some other prisons, there are rehabilitative programs. One in the prison is called ALPHA which is an anti-substance-abuse program that has proven to decrease the recidivism rate. A lot of prisoners don’t have a high education, so there is now a program called “Hard Knocks High”. This is the only accredited high school that is under a Sheriff in any American jail. So hopefully, after being in prison they will have received an education, the want to not commit crimes, live a sober life and appreciation for freedom.


  1. I personally am a fan of Sherrif Joe Arpaio's tactics. The thought that criminals deserve more rights, humane treatment and certain luxuries in prison astounds me. In my opinion, if a criminal has brutally raped, tortured, or murdered someone, they should be treated like a cockroach. I don't understand why they should be treated under human circumstances when they did not grant that same kindness to the person they offended. I guess I take the more "eye for an eye" approach, but I think it is well deserved.

    Pink underwear... hilarious. But seriously, it's just a color. Get over it? Tent cities are genius. Teaching a lesson while saving money. However I don't agree with the small jobs that they are doing. Any unemployed citizen would probably love to have a job and make money even if it was cleaning up the streets or painting over graffiti. Overall, I like this guy.

  2. I have rather mixed feelings about his tactics, some of which i agree with, but the tents thing i think is kind of harsh. Don't get me wrong, it would be okay sometimes, but come on in 120 degree weather really? And they have to work in that too? I don’t agree with that. i do like that the inmates have to work with animals and teach the community how to take care for them. i think that not only helps the inmates, but allows the community to not just view them as convicts, but people. The Disney channel thing is also wrong, these inmates have to do way more than other inmates and also have fewer privileges so since cable is mandatory the sheriff could at least let them watch regular channels. I don't think its right to completely strip them of everything, they are still people.

  3. I think that this form of punishment for prisoners is absolutely genius not only are they put through tough physical labor but I also believe that it is a very good form of deterrence. In the video attached to the blog even some of the inmates think that it is a good idea and like being able to work on a chain gang. I also believe the use of tent communities and not allowing inmates to watch tv is another good form of deterrence. Not only can this way save money in the long run by cutting costs for various things, I also believe that this might be one of the most effective ways to deter criminals from committing crimes. If you don't want to live in the hot tent communities, wear pink clothing, and perform strenuous labor in chain gangs then don't commit the crimes that are going to land you there. I believe that this can be a very effective method of deterrence and should be implemented in other areas of the country to see if this is something that can actually work nation wide.

  4. I like this post, and I think Sherrif Joe Arpaio's punishments are great tactics especially the cable, they don't need all those channels they are not in vacation. I like how he is saving money for tax payers and having the cheapest stuff possible. Having them in tents when its 120 degree weather is also a great punishment, I think it helps deter crime, the tougher it is the more likely people won't come back.

  5. I think this kind of approach has been disproven as effective. Instead of keeping corrections a professional enterprise, this Sheriff makes a mockery out of it. If an inmate is supposed to take his obligation to become rehabilitated seriously, he must be treated with some level of respect and concern. Forcing inmates to wear pink underwear and watch disney doesn't do anyone any favors. In fact, I would suspect it reinforces in the detainee's mind that he is a worse criminal than he really is. Obviously does not match any of the criteria of what works research, this is just a feel good program.

  6. I think that Sheriff Arpaio's programs are overall really good. They benefit the community and the offenders. The offenders are able to learn skills while they are in jail so that they may be able to use them once they are released. They also have jobs so they are not sitting all of the time, and they are willing to do the work. In terms of benefiting the community, the jobs that they do help out, as well as the programs that the sheriff has implemented. The decisions that the sheriff has made save the taxpayers money. In terms of pink underwear and handcuffs, who cares? The items do the job no matter what color they are.