California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Arizona sheriff’s desire to save money goes unjustified

    Inmates of Arizona’s Maricopa County jail system already have it worse than others. Under the control of Sheriff Joe Arpaio,  inmates are only given two meals per day, which they are forced to pay for on their own. On top of that, they are required to wear pink uniforms, usually against their will, according to the Huffington Post.

    Totaling roughly 8,000 in number, these prisoners are now forced to endure yet another harsh treatment: they are no longer allowed to eat meat.

    In a TV interview with a local Phoenix news station, the sheriff explained how the replacing of meat with soy in the new diet is going to save the county nearly $100,000.

    Unfortunately, for Arpaio, many are beginning to become concerned with the way he is managing his jails.

    “A big issue in the American prison systems right now is the blatant exploitation of constitutional standards. For the amount of money that Arpaio claims to be saving from the change in diet, it seems really unnecessary to me that this kind of decision would be deemed as necessary,” said Sean Larner, a cognitive science major at Vassar College in New York, who did a semester of prison studies as a participant in an undergraduate program at Vassar.

    The 81-year-old sheriff has been harassed by several different organizations regarding his treatment of inmates.

    In 2008, a district judge decreed that Arpaio’s jails failed to meet constitutional standards in multiple key areas. Furthermore, in 2010, the same judge found there remained significant areas of failure to comply and noted that the only improvements made were those that posed no additional cost.

    The irony in this whole situation is that despite Arpaio’s fixation on saving money, his policies have left taxpayers out to dry for millions of dollars in court fees and settlements.
    From 1998-2010, the county put out $13 million to inmates and their families for injury and death claims against Correctional Health Services. As a result, people are beginning to ask questions about the legitimacy of Arpaio’s actions.

    “A lot of the American prison systems now are getting funded from private venders. The government only controls a certain amount of penitentiary systems throughout the country, so often times, they don’t have jurisdiction to intervene on prisoner treatment. I’m not sure if Maricopa County falls under this category, but if so that would explain the lack of federal attention,” Larner said.

    Which according to an article from The Guardian, a federal judge has appointed an independent monitor to oversee Arpaio’s actions and make sure he is complying with constitutional requirements.

    Obviously, there is no denying the fact that given the circumstances, Arpaio’s actions seem to be a little strange. But, there are those who find his actions to be in the right.

    “Regardless of cost, my opinion stands that until the all of the American prison systems start implicating this type of strict policy, we need to be open to this kind of evolvement,” said Byron Minich, a CLU alumnus who graduated with a minor in economics. “Criminals shouldn’t be treated the way that they are due to constitutional standards. They’re sentenced for breaking the law, so why in turn do they deserve the respect of it?”

    Although some feel that the inmates deserve a form of lesser treatment, Arpaio’s actions are extreme and unjustified.


    Peter James
    Staff Writer
    Published Oct. 9, 2013