Inmates put on bread, water diet for desecrating flag
Dozens of Arizona inmates will eat nothing but bread and water for at least seven days, the latest punishment by one of the country's toughest sheriffs.
“These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells. Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel,” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. “It's a disgrace to those who have fought for our country.”
Arpaio said a second offense would bring 10 more days of the sparse diet.
The flags are part of a push for patriotism in the county's jail cells. In recent months, the Maricopa County jails have broadcast patriotic songs over the public address systems — “The Star Spangled Banner” in the morning and “God Bless America” at night.
A sheriff's spokesman said the bread provides the daily requirement of calories and nutrients that is necessary. There are about 8,300 inmates in the jail system.
Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Arizona, said the move is nothing more than a “publicity stunt.”
“It's certainly not illegal, but what he is doing is bad policy,” Pochoda said. “It's just another vindictive policy that has nothing to do with running a good jail system.”
Arpaio has made headlines for keeping thousands of inmates outdoors in repurposed military tents in 117-degree weather and banning smoking, coffee and movies in jails.
He has even put his stamp on mealtime. Inmates are fed only twice a day, and he stopped serving salt and pepper — all to save taxpayers money, he said.
Arpaio, who was elected to his sixth term in 2012, has served as sheriff since 1993. He has raised $3.5 million in campaign contributions during the past year and is considering a run for governor.
Arpaio demanded this month that the federal government cover the cost of court-ordered reforms and attorneys' fees associated with the office's long-running civil-rights case.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled in May that the Sheriff's Office engaged in systemic racial profiling of Latinos through its immigration-enforcement policies.
He has strongly denied the accusations.
Reuters, USA Today and the Arizona Republic contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mountaineer workers fear smoking ban will harm ‘livelihood’
- To fight crime, Chicago tries wiping away arrests
- House committee considers new oversight for CDC labs