Arizona Sheriff Uses Female Chain Gang to Do His Bidding


chain gangI'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

crime, feminism


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kattod kattod

exactly!  don't do the crime and you won't do the time!!

Char_... Char_gal4

I have no issues with sening someone to prison for a legit crime.  Granted, I'm against prisoners having access to satellite or cable TV, or getting special favors on our dime.  But, this is no excuse to treat them in a manner unfit for humans, or even animals.  Feeding someone moldy food, shackling them when they clearly aren't a danger (such as in labor), and putting them outside to suffer in the elements is wrong!  Not to mention, this guy is running for Senate, and is displaying his depraved behavior in front of many.  Chain gangs (I've seen them in Ohio) are often seen, supervised, cleaning litter off the sides of the highway, not being paraded like circus elephants.

At this point, as health services (especially for the mentally ill) are getting cut, prisons will become even more overcrowded when people can no longer afford medications, therapy, or a mental health institution's care.  As my own father, a cop, stated, "The biggest provider in mental healthcare is the Sheriff's Deptartment."  We have a full 1% of our population in jail, higher than most idustrialized nations.  I think we should take a long hard look at where we are headed.

tntmo... tntmom1027

He has saved the county so much money on housing the inmates. You forgot to mention that he now makes them peddle bikes to power their he's GREEN too! lol. Or how about the fact that he now streams mugshots on the web? It's all a form of detterrment meant to try and keep them from coming back in. 

The fact is that they committed a crime and are paying for that, he isn't doing anything inhumane to them or he would have had legal action against him. Just because he isn't pampering them doesn't mean he's a horrible person. 

The women committed a crime and are considered a flight risk therefore just like a man when he is hospitalized they are restrained while giving birth, if they didn't want to deal with it they shouldn't have broken the law. 

Jamie Young Baker

No problem with it at all.  They committed a crime, they should do more then sit on their butts in jail eating and watching TV while we pay for them to be there.  While I disagree with moldy food being served I support Sherriff Joe and think more of his policies need to be picked up.

tntmo... tntmom1027

The fact is that the Government(both state and federal) will not fund any other options for dealing with the population that breaks the law, all they want to do is build more prisions, partly because it gives the general population a sense of safety. In reality the better option(proven with research) is community correction, such as probation and high level supervision for all but the violent offenders. The technology for this is there but there isn't enough funded for it nor for the personel needed because of the millions of dollars spent on building new prisions and their operation. 

It's now possible to remotely monitor the whereabouts of an "inmate"(GPS) as well as remotely monitor alchohol consumption with newer ankle/wrist braclets that test a persons sweat for alchohol, as well as remote breathalizors installed in the homes of offenders. But the populutation would rather have every offender locked up in order to provide themselves with a sense of security. 

Sheriff Arpaio is making a bad situation better by saving millions of money for the taxpayers. The allegations of moldy food have been federally investigated and proven untrue, so as they say "innocent until proven guilty"....and to quote him "our troops spend years livng in these tents in hotter/colder climate so I think the inmates can handle it, why should they get anything better"

sarae... saraewrig

I agree with the other posters - I don't have much sympathy for the prisoners.

zandh... zandhmom2

Go Sheriff Arpaio! Maybe if life was a little harder while people were in prision, they would think twice before committing another crime.  And as far as "OMG FEMALES" again no problem with that.  Isn't that what gender equality means? Treating men and women the the same crime and deal with the same punishment?

todaca todaca

I think he has it all right and more should follow in his footsteps. Stop giving inmates a free ride!

Troys... TroysMommy1220

Hell yeah I think those women should go out there and pick up trash. I don't care what the occasion is that brought him to making them do it, but damn right they should. I'm so tired of seeing prisons that seem more like sleep away camps these days. You do a crime that lands you in jail and you should have to suffer and endure some hard labour...not sit on your ass and watch Oprah all day while obtaining your bachelors degree and then go take your break out on the yard  where you're playing basketball with your homies.

As for his harsh immigration law, I'm all for that too. Illegally being here is breaking the law, you break the law you get punished. If you want to be here so bad go get your visa or whatever you have to do, but don't be here illegally and think that thats your right, because it's not.

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