ACLU Reminds "America's Toughest Sheriff" That He's Not Above the Law

No one is above the law, not even Joe Arpaio, the media-hungry sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. His stunts include reinstituting chain gangs (they include women and juveniles), erecting a tent city where over 2,000 convicted men and women serve out their sentences in 120 degree desert heat, feeding prisoners only twice a day (he's bragged of serving green bologna), and forcing them to wear pink underwear.

Much of the ACLU's legal docket in Arizona is devoted to challenging Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MSCO) policies that violate the constitutional rights of women, prisoners, and immigrants — for starters. Arpaio has spent hundreds of thousands of local taxpayers' money defending his indefensible and unconstitutional practices.

Late yesterday in Phoenix the bell rang on round II in the ACLU's fight to force "Sheriff Joe" to follow the law. We asked a state court judge to find him in contempt for refusing to comply with a 2005 court order that clearly requires him and his staff to provide transport for the women incarcerated in his jails who are seeking abortions.

That 2005 order was the end result of four years that the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project and the ACLU of Arizona spent in court challenging an unwritten MSCO policy. Jail officials were prohibited from transporting an inmate for an abortion (note: the women foot the bill for the abortion) unless the inmate first obtained a lawyer, asked for a court hearing, and convinced a judge to grant her an order to end her pregnancy.

In August 2005, the Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County, struck down the unwritten policy, holding that it violated women's reproductive rights and served "no legitimate penological purpose." The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld that decision; both the Arizona and the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

But that hasn't stopped the guy who loves being known as "America's Toughest Sheriff" from flouting the law; imposing his morality on the women in his jails; advancing his political agenda; or burnishing his public image using taxpayer dollars. After the US Supreme Court refused to review the case, Arpaio told the Republic's Michael Kiefer that he disagreed with the decision and would "see what happens if the situation comes before me again."

It didn't take long. This past spring, an inmate we're referring to in our motion as "Mary Roe" and her attorney pleaded with Arpaio and his staff to transport her for an abortion appointment. Deputy Chief John MacIntyre, an Arpaio crony who's one of the architects of the policy, had been involved in the original case and knew the court's decision. Still, MacIntyre said — yes, you guessed it — that the quickest way for her client to be transported would be for her to get a court order.

Roe was eventually able to get the abortion, but the four-week delay resulted in her having to endure a much longer and more emotionally difficult procedure.

So now we're heading back into court to spell out the law for Sheriff Joe and his staff, yet again, and ensure that other women don't get this kind of runaround. Our motion asks the court to require the jail to post signs in both English and Spanish informing prisoners of their right to be transported. All employees would be required to sign a statement acknowledging that they have been informed of the law. And we're asking the court to assess penalties for this violation and for future violations of the court order should they occur.

For all of his law-and-order bluff, Arpaio clearly has no intention of abiding by his oath to uphold the law when it isn't doesn't suit him. So we'll do what it takes to force him to respect the constitutional rights of women, even if it means hitting him in one of his most sensitive spots … his pocketbook.

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What's wrong wi...

"Forcing" them to wear pink underwear. "Humiliating" prisoners by dressing them in pink. It's just a color! It won't turn you into a little girl, really.

doofus

His attempts at "advancing his political agenda" sound like they might be as effective as those of the ACLU. Definitely time to start worrying.

Liberal hater

You left-wing communist at the American Criminal Liberties Union hate America it seems. If anyone does not subscribe to your radical, liberal, anti-American agenda then you try to find some like- minded idiot, liberal judge who will allow you to steal, I mean sue the group or individual.
Hell is waiting for your type of scum. Oh, wait you God-haters don't believe in hell. Please son't sue me!!

Arros

Will the signs also bee in Greek, German, Chinese, Korean, etc.?

Liberal

@"Liberal hater"
You claim liberals hate America, hate God, etc. Yet you yourself use the word "hate" in your very moniker. Why so much vitriol? Why so much anger? The ACLU fights for anyone, ANYONE who becomes a victim of abuse beyond the law, even (gasp) conservatives.

Methinks you need anger management. Or a brain. Yeah, a brain will do nicely.

Common Sense

Men and women who break the law, have no constitutional rights.

Alessandra Soler Meetze, is a criminal apologist and enabler.

Here's a novel idea Alessandra. Instead of using your money and resources to bring the HATE of the ACLU down on the good Sheriff, why don't you educate the law breaking dirt bags to stay out of the good Sheriff's prison? Think about it Alessandra! It's a win win! You put the Sheriff out of business and us law abiding citizens don't have to worry about some slime-ball murdering rapist doing harm to our families.

But something tells me you like it the other way around. So if that's the case then your as guilty as the criminals on the Sheriffs chain gang. Sleep tight and I hope you are not a victim of some scumbag your trying to "save" from the brutality of our big bad prisons.

rightwinghater

It's time to take Arpaio out.

Journey

Somebody breaks into your home and is raping a 13 year old, sleeping parents hear a noise get up, father looks into kids rooms, sees intruder raping his daughter... hits intruder with baseball bat, intruder dies. Father goes to prison for murder. - true story

Why so many of you think prisoners have no human rights is beyond me.

Gadfly

Commen Sense says "Men and women who break the law, have no constitutional rights."

Does that include Sheriff Joe? (Assuming the sheriff is a man or woman.)

Common Sense

Gadfly and rightwinghater, This is like having a battle of wits with an unarmed man/women/transvestite/homo/or whatever gender you maybe.

How's your boy Edwards doing? Just another left wing elitist that shows no respect to his wife, children, family and friends.

Maybe your ACLU can come up with an excuse for him. Rehab must be right around the corner. Maybe the Betty Ford Clinic.

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