Nothing new here, a simple re-posting of some comments I made in the comments section of another post – for easy finding, you can find what I said here:
…In the general election I’ll have a mail-in ballot, but I’ll just be voting for Democrats across the board… you know, so my vote “counts”. Because in prior years I’d vote for the Libertarian candidates. And Arpaio. I always vote for Arpaio…
…As far as Arpaio goes, I think I vote for him because I have never heard of him doing anything I thought was wrong, and I don’t know what someone else will do better. I believe that convicted criminals should be punished. I believe that while they are incarcerated (sp?), forcing criminals to do hard labor is reasonable, and that giving them comfortable living conditions is not required.
I also believe that there are major problems with the entire judicial branch, and the process by which people become convicted and sentenced needs to be torn down and rethought from scratch. But as long as the people say this is the system they want for convicting criminals (by not even attempting to replace it or reform it in any significant way), ways must be found of dealing with those convicted appropriately. And as far as I can see, Arpaio does what he can…
…Oh, and feel free to tell me why I’m wrong. Tell me Arpaio uses his position to … I don’t know … to rape schoolgirls or something, and perhaps I’ll have a reason to vote for someone else who presumably does not … rape schoolgirls…
Now, Nanda had a response to this:
“Here’s an ACLU article on a pending case against Arpaio. http://www.aclu.org/Prisons/Prisons.cfm?ID=14510&c=121 But perhaps the opinion of bleeding-heart commies holds no bearing. 😉
One problem with Arpaio is that the punishment does not always fit the crime. Sure, bad people should be punished – but to the extent that their crime did harm. I see no reason to be petty and _vengeful_ about it. Still another problem is these punishments are being applied to a startling number of innocent, yet convicted, individuals. Joe might not be responsible for their convictions, but he is responsible for their welfare.
And I would argue that comfortable living conditions, to a reasonable extent, should certainly be expected of convicted non-violent criminals. Incarceration does imply mistreatment. I see no reason why someone serving a short day or two sentence should be subjected to nearly unlivable conditions. It’s unnecessary and inhumane. What of those awaiting trial, but cannot afford bail? Why should they be placed under the same conditions, especially if in the end they are found innocent? It’s just wrong.
I’m also not very fond of Sheriff Joe’s internet broadcasting of female prisoners, some who had not yet been charged, using the toilet. That’s disgusting and criminal in and of itself. Where’s the punishment for Joe? Just an “oops my bad” and we’re supposed to forget it ever happened?
And what of the blind inmate who died by – allegedly – falling off of his bunk? The beds were supposedly 4-5 feet off the ground, and he had a broken neck, broken toes, and *internal* injuries. Joe conducted a half-assed investigation and concluded he fell out of bed? Reports of prison guards beating the man, but he didn’t care a bit. Perhaps it’s a good thing to be tough towards crime, but this type of behavior is just filthy. It’s not tough, it’s cowardly.
Then there’s the woman who was a suicidal herion addict. She was refused medical treatment (I suppose the logic was that she didn’t deserve any, since she broke a law?) and ended up committing suicide in her jail cell – with sheets that shouldn’t have been in the cell, based on knowledge that she was suicidal. This kind of thing just shouldn’t happen. But maybe the justification is that it didn’t matter, anyway. She was a criminal, she was a junkie – why should they bother with anything other than punishing her? I don’t know, perhaps you can justify their actions. An “honest mistake”? Mistakes of this caliber should not happen when they mess with people’s lives. Those responsible should be held accountable and prosecuted.
The main beef I have with Arpaio is his attitude, because that’s what drives his atrocious behavior. He’s a nasty old power-tripping man who thinks he’s God. He abuses the position he is in. He’s there to maintain order but he’s all about punishment. There is, or should be, MORE to serving time than merely revenge or “teaching a lesson.” There’s also rehabilitation. I see no evidence that Arpaio gives a flying fuck about what happens to criminals once they leave his system, so long as he’s been “tough” on them while under his watch.
It’s all publicity and reputation for him, instead of focusing on what really matters – crime reduction, decreasing repeat offenders, etc. I believe he’s as criminal as those he throws into tent city – he lies, he wastes tax money [also with these preventable lawsuits http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/issues/1997-01-23/feature2.html/1/index.html], he neglects important public issues in favor of his own self-interests. Nothing new for politicians, but his radical decisions have very direct consequences. Nasty, nasty man.
Rats in the kitchens and rancid meat? That complaint I have less sympathy for, as you can find the same at your local Filiberto’s. Anyway it’s nothing new for the prison system. Wearing prison stripes? I don’t find that any more demeaning than shocking orange, which by NO means is the “new pink.” But it sickens me to hear him brag about his cost-cutting measures, serving rotten food and all, and to hear nothing of where that saved money was applied elsewhere. Why not remedy overcrowding, you know, so the inmates are less inclined take over the jail and gang rape female prison guards?
I would never, ever, in good conscience vote for Arpaio. I don’t want to be in any way responsible for what I see as massive violations of our fundamental rights as humans – nor do I want to support a dirty old man’s power trip. I don’t like Saban, but he’s nowhere near the criminal that Arpaio is. I’ve been watching Joe for a long time and dislike him more and more.
But if you don’t think anything Arpaio has done is wrong per se, okay. I suppose a lot of his “wrongdoing” is his inaction, his failure to take responsibility. Anyway, I would be interested to know why what I perceive as abuses of power are okay in your book. Not trying to pick a fight, just wondering. Maybe you can convince me to not feel so absolutely disgusted every time I hear his name.”
And here is my response to that, and really my clarified position on prisons and prisoners:
Here we go…
I read that ACLU article regarding the pending case. But I will say something else first.
I do not believe that it is the job of the person running the prison to treat prisoners differently depending upon what they did to get there or how long they are expected to stay. If the population as a whole wants different sets of conditions for prisoners with different crimes and different terms of imprisonment, they should pass laws and pay taxes to have a system created that does that. Since I live in a “democracy” where that has not yet happened, I tend to assume that it is because the majority of the people do not want it to happen. SO: Every convicted criminal imprisoned should be expected to be treated the same.
Now, the ACLU case is with regard to those imprisoned who have not yet been convicted of a crime. Since they have not yet been found to be criminals, it is my opinion that they should not be jailed with criminals or treated in the same way as criminals. I hope the court comes to the same conclusion in this case, but I don’t think that means I have a “bleeding heart”.
As I stated, I agree that there is a problem with the system, with the way that people are convicted and sentenced, and actually with the entire judicial branch. (I recognise that I mis-stated earlier. Sorry – I assume you understood.) The issue of “rehabilitation” is a complex one without a clear or universal solution at this time – but it is one that I believe personally is the responsibility of the courts, not the prisons, to determine. In my opinion, if the court determines that someone may be rehabilitated and become a productive member of society, that court has no business sending that person to prison, but instead should put them forcibly if necessary into an appropriate rehabilitation program. Those sent to prisons should be those who have no clear chance for rehabilitation.
Incarceration does imply mistreatment. In my opinion, convicted criminals do not deserve medical or mental health treatment except where non-treatment would risk the lives of the guards or outside citizens or otherwise disproportionately increase the long-term costs of imprisonment. In my opinion, from the day they are convicted until they day they are released, prisoners are neither “people” nor should they be considered to be “human”, and making it to the end of their sentence alive and in good health should not be considered a guarantee nor a right. Degradation (unflattering color/style of clothing, being broadcast to the world in various states of undress, et cetera) should be expected, and more serious punishment should be accepted.
Overcrowding is not really an issue of the prison, it is an issue of the criminal justice system and of society as a whole. If it is related to the prisons themselves in any way, it is really in that the citizens who “democratically” created the prison system did not create it to accommodate large enough numbers of prisoners to coincide with the judicial system they created. But again, that’s not a management problem from within the prisons, but from without.
Inasmuch as I do not have the option to vote for new laws changing the size/scale of the prison system, and do not have the option to vote for laws that overhaul the criminal justice system to do such things as keep those capable of rehabilitation out of prisons entirely, and inasmuch as those things really don’t have much to do with Arpaio’s job, I’ve got to vote for Arpaio. His actions are most in line with my understainding of the core purpose of the prison system, which is to imprison and punish convicted criminals.