Health Commission Gets Tough on "America's Toughest Sheriff"

Big news reverberated out of Maricopa County, Ariz., yesterday when it was made public that the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) last week stripped all of Maricopa County's Sheriff's Office jails — run by the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio — of their accreditation. Not only did the NCCHC say (PDF) it was terminating its accreditation because of the county's failure to maintain levels of medical and mental health care that meet national standards, but it also accused county officials of providing false information about their compliance. In other words, they lied in an effort to cover up grossly inadequate conditions. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise though: as this is pretty par for the course for Arpaio, who refers to himself as "America's toughest sheriff," has bragged recently about spending only 30 cents a day on meals served to the pre-trial detainees housed at the Maricopa County Jail and is famous for forcing them to eat outdated and oxidized green bologna.

Thanks to the work of lawyers from the ACLU's National Prison Project, however, Arpaio's deceit and inhumanity are being exposed to a degree never before seen. A ruling in an ACLU lawsuit that seeks to force Arpaio to be accountable to a federal consent decree mandating that he maintain conditions at the jail that meet constitutional minimums is expected any day. In seeking to prove that Arpaio must be subjected to federal court oversight, lawyers spent nearly two months in trial documenting a laundry list of egregious stories that crystallize just how callous and out of control Arpaio and his deputies are. Among the most horrific: the story of Juan Mendoza Farias, booked for a DUI-related probation violation who died in custody with blunt force injuries on his face, torso and limbs, according to the county medical examiner. Another: the death at the hands of officers of 33-year-old Charles Agster, a mentally retarded man who weighed 125 pounds. A jury awarded Agster's family $9 million in damages in 2006 — one of over 2,500 inmate lawsuits against Arpaio that have cost the county more than $42 million.

What's ironic about the NCCHC stripping Maricopa County of its accreditation is that the county had used that very accreditation as one of its primary defenses against the ACLU's charges that there are grossly inadequate conditions in existence that need to be fixed immediately. Perhaps the NCCHC saw which way the wind was blowing in the ACLU's case and couldn't imagine accrediting an outfit that was found to be in violation of the Constitution by a federal judge. Either way, it is clear that Arpaio's tough guy attitude is beginning to wear very thin.

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Liberal hater

The American Criminal Liberties Union are cowards.
Always for the criminal and always against law enforcement.
Maybe next time a member of the ACLU is about to get, oh I don't know, raped or murdered or carjacked or be robbed maybe they will call out for help to a criminal they've helped since they hate the police so much!


Awesome news, good to see such despicable people in positions of authority finally held accountable for their actions. Hopefully criminal charges can be filed against this monster.


The moral of the story here is, Stay out of jail and dont break the law. Dont do the crime if you cant do the time. The jail is not Burger King, You cant have things your own way. Get a life, ACLU.


I can find everywhere that the ACLU had Arpaio in court for substandard jail conditions but I cannot find just what the outcome of that court case was. Anyone have any ideas?


I am aware of the court case against Arpaio for feeding inmates rotten food. But I can't find out what the results of that case are. Can anyone help?


There is a big difference between jail being a country club, and basic humanitarian needs, IE, feeding spoiled or out-dated foods, poor living conditions, unhealthy standards or lack of, for the prisoners.

I will grant you, the best way to stop being treated this way is to not do the crime. As good as that may sound, it is not the answer. People are humans. They are going to commit crimes. There are those in our society who are mentally challenged. They need protection from abuse from fellow prisoners and especially those hired to protect them.

You GO, ACLU. Although I do not agree with all your stands, somebody has to watch out for us little guys.

Thanks for all you do!


Anyone that belives the police can stop crime is a fool. They only show up to agree that a crime has happened so the insurance company will know to pay a claim. Other than that most of them are only there for the power play over those not in their club.

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