Hot Enough For You?
Date Added: Nov. 15, 2003
The ongoing U.S. military operations in the Middle East have patriotic sentiments running high back in the states. So, when an outspoken and agressive Arizona lawman puts prisoners in their place by pointing out how much worse our soldiers have it, news of his approach becomes quite popular.
TOO HOT FOR ARIZONA CONVICTS ???
It's even hotter than usual in Phoenix, 116 degrees sets a new record, the Associated Press reports:
About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed-wire-surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued boxer shorts.
On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing boxers were either curled up on their bunk beds or chatted in the tents, which reached 138 degrees inside the week before. Many were also swathed in wet, towels as sweat collected on their chests and dripped down to their socks.
"It feels like we are in a furnace," said James Zanzo't, an inmate who has lived in the tents for 1 1/2 years. "It's inhumane."
Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy sheriff who created the tent city and long ago started making his prisoners eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic.
He said Wednesday that he told all of the inmates: "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your damned mouths."
KIND OF PUTS THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE DOESN'T IT?
In 2004, this chain picked up an illustrated preamble, added by an unidentified editor:
TO THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR WITH JOE ARPAIO, HE IS THE MARICOPA, ARIZONA COUNTY SHERIFF AND HE KEEPS GETTING ELECTED OVER AND OVER.
THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY:
Sheriff Joe Arpaio (in Arizona) who created the "tent city jail":
He has jail meals down to 40 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.
He stopped smoking and porno magazines in the jails. Took away their weights. Cut off all but "G" movies.
He started chain gangs so the inmates could do free work on county and city projects.
Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.
He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again but only let in the Disney channel and the weather channel.
When asked why the weather channel he replied, so they will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.
He cut off coffee since it has zero nutritional value.
When the inmates complained, he told them, "This isn't the Ritz/Carlton. If you don't like it, don't come back."
He bought Newt Gingrich's lecture series on videotape that he pipes into the jails.
When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied that a democratic lecture series might explain why a lot of the inmates were in his jails in the first place.
In July, 2003, the Associated Press ran an extensive article detailing how an ongoing heat wave was affecting the Phoenix area. That article discussed the many ways that an extended span of extreme heat was taking its toll on people (and pets) of all walks of life. The text above comprised a very small part of that article, but is true to its source. The facts given in the 2004 preamble are also mostly accurate and only suffer from the occasional exaggeration.
Joe Arpaio is indeed well known for his "tough on crime" tactics and use of humiliation and discomfort in his jails. He's held the office in Maricopa County since 1993. He certainly has fans and enjoys being labeled "America's Toughest Sheriff." He's not without his critics, but for the most part, voters like him.
What made this letter popular is the Sheriff's quote comparing his prisoners' plight to what U.S. Soldiers in Iraq are enduring. The author of the chain letter above decided to end his excerpt of the AP piece there, presumably because he intended to portray Sheriff Arpaio as a patriot and the rest of the article detracts from that.
It's probably true that Arpaio is very patriotic. However, Arpaio's inmates were living in 100+ degree tents, eating green bologna and working on chain gangs long before our men and women in uniform were toughing it out in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Arpaio made national headlines in 2007 when it was announced that the latest resident of his "tent city" prison was none other than boxer Mike Tyson. Picked up in Scottsdale last Christmas, Tyson admitted to cocaine possession and driving under the influencing, earning him a 25-hour jail stint. He was dropped off at tent city on November 20, 2007, clad in prison stripes, pink underwear, pink socks and pink handcuffs.
True to the tough guy image forwarded by the chain letter above, Arpaio was openly critical of the court for giving the boxer such a light sentence and promised that Tyson would not be given the Hollywood treatment during his stay, telling the the Arizona Republic "In this county, you get no special treatment like all the young movie actresses in LA," referring to Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
References: Snopes.com, Arizona Republic