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It’s Not Just Immigrants On Sheriff Joe’s List — It’s Everyone

Right-wing nativist assholes are also right-wing authoritarian assholes. They come in the same package. Case in point: Arizona’s Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union is in a federal district court beginning today seeking to rebuff an attempt by Maricopa County and its sheriff, Joe Arpaio, to terminate a federal consent decree mandating that he maintain conditions at the Maricopa County Jail that meet constitutional minimums.

The ACLU will argue in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona that deteriorating conditions within each of the jail’s five facilities that house pre-trial detainees – people who have been arrested but not yet tried or convicted – necessitate federal court oversight to ensure that Arpaio and other county officials maintain safe and humane conditions and provide the thousands of pre-trial detainees held there basic levels of medical and mental health care.

… Pre-trial detainees at Maricopa County Jail are regularly given moldy bread, rotten fruit and other contaminated food. Detainees with serious medical, mental health and dental needs receive inadequate care, and they are routinely denied beds or bunks at intake, forcing them to sleep on the floor. Additionally, severe overcrowding in three of the jail’s facilities has created extremely dangerous environments by significantly increasing the potential for violence among inmates.

In one recent and particularly galling example, jail officials chose to punish rather than treat the bizarre behavior of a young and severely psychotic African immigrant. Jail officials put him in disciplinary segregation and chose to house him with other inmates, resulting in his being so severely beaten by his cell mates that he had to be taken to the emergency room.

It was only last week that the ACLU was similarly taking Arpaio to court to force him to live up to a court order to transport female prisoners to abortion appointments.

This is the same wingnut sheriff who has been rounding up every Latino in Maricopa County, transforming his department into an immigration bureau and incapacitating his office’s normal law-enforcement duties. I guess it shouldn’t be a big shocker that someone who thinks brown people’s rights are expendable would feel the same about women. This is just the right-wing approach to the "rule of law" in action — it’s only the law if a right-winger says it’s so.

As the WaPo opined the other day: It’s time for someone sane to step in here. Kudos to the ACLU.

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David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for MSNBC.com on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.

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