is a law enforcement officer, and the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Arpaio, who promotes himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff,"has become controversial for his approach to operating the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. He has a large number of vocal supporters as well as opponents. Arpaio continues to earn the support of Maricopa County voters who reelected him sheriff by double-digit margins in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. In 2007 a petition to recall Arpaio from office failed to gain enough voter signatures to get on the ballot. In a survey taken by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication while the petition was in circulation, nearly three out of four respondents opposed the recall, and 65 percent of the respondents held a positive opinion of Arpaio.
His practices have been criticized by organizations such as Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arizona Ecumenical Council, the American Jewish Committee, and the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. The editorial board of The New York Times called Arpaio "America's Worst Sheriff".
During his tenure as Maricopa County Sheriff, Arpaio has instituted or strengthened several of the following crime prevention programs:
child identification and fingerprinting
Operation Identification (for marking valuables)
Operation Notification (which identifies business owners to be notified during times of emergency)
Project Lifeline (which provides free cellular phones to domestic violence victims)
S.T.A.R.S. (Sheriffs Teaching Abuse Resistance to Students)
an annual summer camp for kids near Payson. In late 2008 and early 2009, Arpaio appeared in Smile...You're Under Arrest!, a three-episode Fox Reality Channel series in which persons with outstanding warrants were tricked into presenting themselves for arrest.
Arpaio began to serve inmates surplus food and limited meals to twice daily.
He banned inmates from possessing "sexually explicit material" including Playboy magazine after female officers complained that inmates openly masturbated while viewing them, or harassed the officers by comparing their anatomy to the nude photos in the publications. The ban was challenged on First Amendment grounds but upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
In February 2007, Arpaio instituted an in-house radio station he calls KJOE. Arpaio's radio station broadcasts classical music, opera, Frank Sinatra hits, patriotic music and educational programming. It operates from the basement of the county jail for five days a week, four hours each day.
In March 2007, the Maricopa County Jail hosted "Inmate Idol", a takeoff on the popular TV show American Idol.
Starting in July 2000, the Maricopa County Sheriff's website hosted “Jail Cam”, a 24-hour Internet webcast of images from cameras in the Madison Street Jail, a facility which processed and housed pretrial detainees. The goals of the broadcasts were the deterrence of future crime and improved public scrutiny of jail procedures. The cameras showed arrestees being brought in handcuffed, fingerprinted, booked, and taken to holding cells; with the site receiving millions of hits per day. Twenty-four former detainees brought suit against the Sheriff's office, arguing that their Fourteenth Amendment rights of due process had been violated.
One of Arpaio's most visible public relations actions was the introduction of pink underwear, which the Maricopa County Sheriff's website cites as being "world famous." Arpaio subsequently started to sell customized pink boxers (with the Maricopa County Sheriff's logo and "Go Joe") as a fund-raiser for Sheriff's Posse Association. Despite allegations of misuse of funds received from these sales, Arpaio declined to provide an accounting for the money .
Arpaio's success in gaining press coverage with the pink underwear resulted in him extending the use of the color. He introduced pink handcuffs, using the event to promote his book, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America's Toughest Sheriff.
Arpaio set up a "Tent City" as an extension of the Maricopa County Jail . Tent City is located in a yard next to a more permanent structure containing toilets, showers, an area for meals, and a day room. It has become notable particularly because of Phoenix's extreme temperatures. Daytime temperatures inside the tents have been reported as high as 150 °F (65 °C) in the top bunks. During the summer, fans and water are supplied in the tents.
During the summer of 2003, when outside temperatures exceeded 110 °F (43 °C), which is higher than average, 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." Inmates were given permission to wear only their pink underwear.
Tent City has been criticized by groups contending these are violations of human and constitutional rights, as well as by Erwin James, currently on parole from a life sentence in Britain, who wrote a series of articles about his experiences in British prisons for The Guardian.
In 1995, Arpaio reinstituted chain gangs. In 1996, Arpaio expanded the chain gang concept by instituting female volunteer chain gangs. Female inmates work seven hours a day (7 a.m. to 2 p.m.), six days a week. He has also instituted the world's first all-juvenile volunteer chain gang; volunteers earn high school credit toward a diploma.
In 2001, Arpaio required all inmates 18 years and older to register for the Selective Service System. Such registration is mandatory for all U.S. males between 18 and 26 years of age, as well as for resident aliens of the same age regardless of their immigration status. Since 2001, a total of 28,000 inmates (including 9,000 illegal aliens) have registered for Selective Service.
The Sheriff also started the "Have a Heart" program in which inmates may volunteer to be organ donors
In 2005, the Arizona state legislature passed a state law making it a felony, punishable by up to two years in jail, to smuggle illegal aliens across the border. While already a federal crime, Arizona’s law, also known as the “Coyote law”, made it legal for local police to enforce immigration law and also classified persons being smuggled as co-conspirators subject to penalties as laid out in the law.
Arpaio has instructed his sheriff's deputies and members of his civilian posse to arrest illegal aliens. Arpaio told the Washington Times, "My message is clear: if you come here and I catch you, you're going straight to jail.... I'm not going to turn these people over to federal authorities so they can have a free ride back to Mexico. I'll give them a free ride to my jail."
On March 3, 2009, the United States Department of Justice "notified Arpaio of the investigation in a letter saying his enforcement methods may unfairly target Hispanics and Spanish-speaking people" Arpaio, denying any wrongdoing and welcoming the investigation, says he'll cooperate fully. and in October 2009, the Department of Homeland Security removed the authority of Arpaio's 160 federally trained deputies to make immigration arrests in the field. Despite the actions of the Department of Homeland Security, Arpaio has maintained that he will still pursue illegal aliens under Arizona state law.
Under Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has been criticized by numerous human rights organizations.
From 2004 through November 2007, Arpaio was the target of 2,150 lawsuits in U.S. District Court and hundreds more in Maricopa County courts, with more than $50 million in claims being filed, 50 times as many prison-conditions lawsuits as the New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston jail systems combined. Allegations of "cruel" treatment of inmates as well as living conditions have been cited by Amnesty International in a report issued on the treatment of inmates in Maricopa County facilities.
In her book on prison policy The Use of Force by Detention Officers, Arizona State University criminal justice professor Marie L. Griffin reported on a 1998 study commissioned by Arpaio to examine recidivism rates based on conditions of confinement. Comparing recidivism rates under Arpaio to those under his predecessor, the study found "there was no significant difference in recidivism observed between those offenders released in 1989-1990 and those released in 1994-1995." However, a study by the Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno of recidivism rates across the United States showed that Arizona has the nation's lowest rate of recidivism, at only 24.5 percent, while states with higher rates were California (53.4 percent), Alaska (66 percent), and Utah (64 percent). One Nevada district attorney said the states with higher recidivism rates "may have pleasant prisons".
In July 2004, the Phoenix New Times had published Arpaio's home address in the context of a story about his real estate dealings. A special prosecutor served Village Voice Media with a subpoena ordering it to produce "all documents" related to the original real estate article, as well as the IP addresses of all visitors to the Phoenix New Times website since January 1, 2004. The Times then published the contents of the subpoena on October 18. Phoenix New Times editors Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested on charges of revealing grand jury secrets after the publication of the subpoena. Lacey and Larkin published On the following day, the county attorney dropped the case after declining to pursue charges against the two.
On November 28, 2007, it was ruled that the subpoenas were not validly issued and in April, 2008, the New Times editors filed suit against Arpaio, County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Special Prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik.