I'll say one thing for Sheriff Joe Arpaio. At least the hard-nosed cop from Arizona is consistent. Parading out female chain gangs to pick up litter just as the national media comes into Maricopa County for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is simply another way he's found to force human beings to help him make a point.
That they're female inmates seems to have gotten a lot of people angry. We think of chain gangs, and we think of the old pictures of able-bodied men, the kind who could drag a giant ball behind them. Today Arpaio is pretty much the only Sheriff who still uses them as a punishment, and the only one to use women. But does the gender of these people chained together cleaning up trash really matter when you consider what Arpaio is doing with them?
The guy who is talking a run for Senate in 2012 based on his reputation for being tough is just using people to get some free national advertising when their bright pink "Clean and Sober" t-shirts show up in the background at Chase Field on July 12. People. Humans. Sure, they're prison inmates. But make no mistake, they're still human beings. And as "America's Toughest Sheriff" has proven time and again, that part doesn't really matter so much to him.
This is the guy who forces pregnant women to deliver their babies in shackles -- because you know there's no worse flight risk than a lady mid-contraction with a baby hanging out between her legs. This is the guy who had to be ordered by a court to stop feeding pre-trial detainees (you know, the people who haven't even been convicted of a crime) moldy, rotten, and contaminated foods. This is a guy who took to Twitter to crow about temperatures reaching 128 degrees in "Tent City," the controversial outside prison made solely of tents that barely protect inmates from the elements. Is it any surprise that he's dragging them out all of a sudden, out of nowhere, just in time for the media to come to town?
If you think I'm being cynical, how about this little tidbit of information? Arpaio's office sent out a press release announcing the pink-clad prisoners would be out and about that made reference to protesters expected to be in town for the All-Star Game, people who will be speaking out against Arizona's harsh immigration law (of which Arpaio is naturally a supporter). Said "Sheriff Joe," "If they can be there, why can't my female chain gang be there as a public service?" Maybe the Sheriff should be asking himself exactly WHO this gang is serving.
Do you think Arpaio should be sending the female chain gang out to the All-Star Game?
Image via spareorgan/Flickr