image by DonkeyHotey on flickr
Bigot and bully Sheriff Arpaio, runs the Maricopa County jail system that includes several Phoenix-area jails, and he is at the center of yet another controversy: feeding a group of 38 inmates a bread and water diet that he may extend beyond a seven day period, at his whim and depending on how well his supporters respond to his egregious behavior.
County jails are designed to hold inmates for short periods of time. However, jails are now the new lucrative prisons, especially for nonviolent (mostly minor drug offenders). In other words, the county jail, or, the ‘new prison’ not only holds inmates who should be in the penitentiary; it receives monies from the state for each jail inmate who actually belongs in prisons. In November, Arpaio placed 38 inmates on a bread-and-water punishment diet, because he claimed that these inmates, in different cells, in different locations, apparently, did all sorts of awful things to flags he had placed in cells.
In response to what he perceived as disrespectful behavior, Arpaio, true to form and crook that he is, stomped all over the 8th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the constitution for which the very flag stands. There are specific procedures DOC has published for alleged offenses ‘on the inside’ that are much like an arrest, citation and due process on the outside, with categories of offenses ranging from Category 1 (ie, faking an illness) to Category 7 (ie, assaulting an officer). The inmate has a right to face his accuser, know his offense and supporting evidence, be represented by counsel (usually a jailhouse lawyer who is better than many lawyers on the outside), and have a hearing before a disciplinary ‘judge,’
The bread-and-water 38 inmates were apparently afforded no due process, no right to representation or hearing, no formal process. However, the accused inmates are now publicly known not only as criminals, even though they may have not yet been tried or convicted of any original charges, but it’s even worse than that- they are traitors, possibly even terrorists. This may be why their names are not readily available- some, if not all may be pre-trial detainees.
At any rate, Arpaio enjoys a double advantage in his latest use of inmates (and trumped up allegations) to pander to his base as he aspires to political office if he chooses to do so: one, he pockets the extra meal money coming from the state, just as he pockets the money for that extra meal he is supposed to be feeding his inmates. Arpaio’s inmates receive only two meals. All other prison inmates, and all other jail inmates receive three meals a day, and the state reimburses the jails for these meals, intended for class D jail inmates and not for Arpaio’s pockets. Second, he has chosen the hottest of topics to do his latest bread-and-water (likely lucrative, for him, stunt): patriotism. Quite ironic for someone who could give a shit less about what the flag actually stands for.
Arpaio’s laundry list of egregious schemes and behavior reads like someone who has just slept with the devil. It now seems that he so over-reached on the illegal immigration cash-cow that even the DOJ cut him off from warehousing, abusing, and otherwise racial profiling purely for profit and nothing else. He had to quick come up with another publicity stunt, lest he lose supporters, who might be upset about the money he will lose, as fast as he loses illegal immigrants to CCA facilities.
There is much turnover in jail cells, and a lot more carved on the walls, much of it surprisingly anatomically correct and verbally to the point, such as “Kill fuck die” carved in block. Not every inmate is responsible and it is nearly impossible to tell who did what. Arpaio’s placement of American flags in the cells is a violation of fire code, for one, but violation of anything never seems to bother this madman, whose actions can have an effect on whether or not someone gets a fair trial or is granted parole, because, ‘Oh God, aren’t you the treasonist terrorist who destroys American flags?’
This is why we have due process, even inside our prisons. Inmates are not widgets to be used for the political gain of a thieving madman. And you watch: he didn’t cut those phones and commissary- because he is making bank from those things.
No court in the US ever sentences people to 1) solitary or 2) indefinite punishment diets. Also, according to the US Supreme Court, ruling on free speech, ‘flag burning’ is not a crime. This is strict whim of a sick man with a political agenda. Read the list of Arpaio horrors here.