As for the brown-bag lunch, that information was not correct either. Instead of feeding inmates three meals a day, Maricopa County feeds its inmates just two meals a day. The first meal is “brunch” consisting of a bologna sandwich. The day’s lone hot meal is served at night. This plan results in a total cost per inmate per day of $0.30 for meals.
Inmates either work or they are put in lockdown; TV is restricted to authorized programming, which often includes the 10-part series on government by my dad, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. When I inquired if the inmates liked the tapes the answer was no, “Not my problem, not why I show them.”
In addition, Arpaio stated he “took away their (the inmates’) Kool-Aid, so they are drinking a lot more water now.” Water for showers is also limited, the inmates shower only twice a week.
While this might sound harsh to some, Arpaio’s philosophy is, “Inmates should never live better inside our jails than they do on the outside because, simply put, jails are not hotels.” Clearly he does not view making the inmates happy and comfortable as part of his job.
In addition to managing inmates and animals, Arpaio is enforcing immigration laws, something that few other sheriffs have taken on. His staff includes 160 deputies who are 287 G certified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. His view is that he was elected to enforce the law and that is what he is going to do.
There are three groups that work on immigration enforcement: human smuggling, jail operations and community actions. Combined, they process around 1,000 suspected illegal aliens per month. Jail operation includes determining the immigration status of inmates. If they are illegal, they are identified and turned over to ICE. If they are convicted and sentenced under state law, they serve their state time first and are then released to ICE. There are currently 2,100 illegal aliens being held.
When asked why few other law enforcement leaders are following his lead, Arpaio surmised, “They can’t take the heat.” When asked if he received any pushback, his response was clear. “I’m taking heat now, locking up illegals.” However, he made it apparent that a little heat was not going to make him change his ways.
As to laws not being enforced by other law enforcement agencies, he noted; “They think they can enforce the laws they want.” noting that pressure from groups might sway some. When I asked why he enforced the laws his response was simple “That’s my job.”
So the e-mail I got was mostly true, the core is there. Sheriff Arpaio’s job is enforcing the law, and he is doing his job. What’s he not worried about, what others may think. He’s doing his job, are we doing ours?
What is our job as citizens? To be active and involved, to pay attention to what is happening in our communities, to demand that those we vote into office do their jobs, or to replace them. After all, they do work for us.