By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Sherriff Joe Arpaio is a controversial public figure known for his “tough on crime” policy.Many folks are not fond of Sheriff Joe, but despite that every year he is reelected by people of Maricopa County in Phoenix, Arizona. The reason for Apraio’s unpopular status with a portion of the population is his aggressive approach to illegal immigration and tent city where the inmates live in tents and wear pink underwear for the duration they are in the custody of Arpaio.

Actually, Arpaio is a very clever man with unique concepts that make sense.  He is the leading force behind the Animal Crimes Investigation Unit for arresting and prosecuting animal abusers.

Arpaio leads the way for arrests and convictions of animal abusers.  His efforts have made national headlines. Other law enforcement agencies look to his Animal Crimes Unit for training and advice.

The project is part of Arpaio’s strategic plan to stop animal abusers before they become fully fledged criminals because most violent offenders begin with animal abuse.

The plan starts with the most extensive animal cruelty laws in the country. Private Citizens can call an animal hotline to report animal cruelty. Upon probable cause, specially trained detectives from Arpaio’s Sherriff’s Department are sent out to assess the situation.  When an arrest is made the abused animal is taken to Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office Safe Haven.  Safe Haven originated from jail cells that have been converted into air conditioned kennels. While the animals are pampered, the inmates reside in tents and perform hard labor in the 100 degree+ weather, which is how hot Phoenix gets in the summer months.  

Arpaio does not miss a beat. He has a strategy for every component of his operation. The animals are cared for and trained by inmates. The complete process goes full circle when the animals are adopted. The inmates educate the new owners about how to care for their pets. Even though the inmates gain plenty of satisfaction from helping the animals, they are only paid 28 cents an hour. This doesn’t break the Mariposa County bank. Before Sherriff Arpaio took over the department, the county was spending 18 million dollars a year on stray animals. Thanks to Arpaio’s ingenious arrangements he has saved the county 10 million dollars a year. But that’s not all; the county was gifted a huge farm where inmates cultivate their own food. The rest of their meals consist of as many bologna sandwiches the inmates can consume for 40 cents apiece. Christmas trees are grown and sold for a mere 8 to 10 dollars and can be replanted.

Unlike innkeepers, Arpaio doesn’t want the guests at his bed and breakfast to return. To guarantee he doesn’t build a regular clientele, Arpaio has removed all of the luxuries prisoners had access to. Coffee, weights, cigarettes, and porn are now forbidden. If any of his guests complain Arpaio retorts, “This isn’t the Ritz/Carlton.  If you don’t like it, don’t come back.” Entertainment is limited to G-rated movies and the only T.V. channels available are the Disney and weather channels. Why the weather channel?  Arpaio explains, “So they will know how hot it’s gonna be while they are working on the volunteer chain gangs.” But, Arpaio does have a little kindness left in his heart;  if the inmates are too hot  working in the scorching Arizona sun, they are allowed to strip down to their pink underwear, which is part of their jail house attire. Even my four-year-old grandson, Rylan is appalled by that. I don’t think Arpaio will have many return customers any time soon.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

1 Comment

  1. Endive Gardener on January 28, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Actually… Sheriff Joe Arpaio spent $10,000 in taxpayer money to have Arizona State University study recidivism in the jail system since the implementation of his camps. The result showed that there was no change in the rate at which inmates returned to jail.

    Maricopa County’s new programs of inmate counseling and such are having a positive affect among inmates who take part.



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