Oh noes! Not pink underwear!

I’m a puffed-up misogynist twit!
He likes to call himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but he might as well be called “America’s Most Opportunistic Publicity Hound And Misogynist.” Yep, Joe Arpaio, Sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, has crawled out from under his rock to bask in the television lights because the Superbowl’s comin’ to town, and he wants to be sure to get some free publicity:

GLENDALE, Ariz. – If it comes to it, the oft-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” says he has a pair of pink underwear, a bologna sandwich and a spot in a dirty old prison tent for Tom Brady, Eli Manning or, most certainly, Paris Hilton.

Maricopa County – which includes much of metropolitan Phoenix – is host to the Super Bowl, one of the nation’s most decadent party weekends where, sometimes, celebrities and even athletes find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Around here the law means Joe Arpaio, the tough talking, tougher-ruling sheriff who would like nothing better than to make an example out of a high-profile criminal and give them the kind of treatment you might expect in what used to be the wild, wild West.

So for the football player who might get into a bar fight or the starlet who might drive drunk, consider yourself warned.

While it’s nice to see that any celebrity or athlete will be treated the same as anyone else, it’s useful to keep in mind what it’s like to be treated the same as anyone else in one of Joe Arpaio’s jails. The cornerstone of his strategy? Pink underwear.

Pink underwear: When he noticed that inmates kept stealing jail-issued underwear, he dyed them all pink in an effort to humiliate male prisoners and cut down on thefts. It worked and he even sells a line of pink underwear to raise money for the sheriff’s office.

That’s right: Arpaio’s strategy is to feminize the male prisoners, thereby humiliating them. Because there’s nothing worse than being a girl. But I loved the unquestioned assumption that the tactics work because feminization is so bad, and not, say, because it’s a lot harder to pass off pink underwear as your own rather than as the jail-issued stuff.

Other tactics include feeding his prisoners only bologna sandwiches, housing them in tent cities out in the Arizona desert, and making them work on chain gangs. I’m really surprised that nobody’s managed to file a successful civil rights claim challenging these practices, which seem to be put in place not for the benefit of public safety, but for the benefit of Joe Arpaio’s reputation.

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19 Responses to Oh noes! Not pink underwear!

  1. wanderlust says:

    I JUST read this on the Yahoo! home page and was hoping someone would weigh-in on it. Thank You!!!

  2. wanderlust says:

    Oh! And did you catch the bit about warning women not to drive drunk because if caught they will be put on a chain-gang and “horizontal stripes makes you look fat” – douchebag.

  3. zuzu says:

    Ugh, I missed that. Like who cares if you look fat in jail?

  4. Raznor says:

    Doesn’t wild wild west justice include being publicly hanged for stealing a horse? Does anybody actually want that?

  5. Caroline says:

    Oh Lord. I thought it might be Sheriff Hege from Lexington, NC. He did the whole pink jail thing too.


  6. Linnaeus says:

    I was in Phoenix a few years back, and while getting a ride to my hotel on the airport shuttle, I remember talking with a man who remarked on Arpaio’s methods and approved of them. Me and the driver of the shuttle van were trying to point out some of the problems with this, and the man’s response was, “But he’s efficient!”

  7. I live in Phoenix, and there have been many efforts to recall or dethrone Arpaio, but his dirty tactics keep the effort from gaining momentum. The recall office was broken into, for example, and all of the computers’ hardrives were stolen. No one was ever apprehended.

    Anyone who’s interested should do some Googling and read what he did to his opponent a few years back, Dan Saban. It’s terrible.

    The female chain gangs have worse to worry about than “looking fat” of course. I’ve read accounts from women who’ve miscarried in the jails and were laughed at by the guards. Arpaio is a sick, sick man, but his machine is so corrupt and so powerful that defeating him is is an extremely daunting task. Anyone who opposes him will end up in his sights, and their lives will become a living Hell.

  8. A few years back, Arpaio’s officers went undercover in order to arrest several prostitutes. They solicted the women for sex, but they also got naked with them, engaged in sexual contact with them, AND THEN TRIED TO CHARGE THEM. Essentially, they “used” the prostitutes, which is illegal, and then tried to bust them! He went on the O’Reilly factor after the incident, and EVEN BILL O’REILLY WAS DISGUSTED by his vehement defense of the officers’ actions.

    This man is disgusting beyond words.

  9. L. Mac says:

    You are a little late on this story, but I’m glad people around the country are beginning to see what is happening in Maricopa County. He also sells his pink underwear at the infamous “Pink Taco” restaurant in Scottsdale. People should be less concerned about civil rights violations that are being committed when it comes to how he dresses inmates, and more concerned with the over 300 court cases filed against him for mistreatment, including inmates dying at the hands of prison guards. He is cutting back visiting hours at the jails because of a budget shortage, while he uses taxpayers’ money to fight the lawsuits. I know of one illegal immigrant who, before being tricked into signing something which had her deported (despite having grown up in Arizona and having scholarships to college), suffered through her period for four days in a jail cell with no hygiene products, no blankets or bed, with over 30 other women. He is a terribly racist man running machine politics in the modern age.

  10. zuzu says:

    Yeah, that’s why I said I was really surprised that nobody had succeeded in a federal civil rights suit against him, apparently. New York City’s jail system was under a consent decree for years because of crappy conditions, even the central booking jails where you weren’t supposed to be held for more than 24 hours prior to booking. But county jail is real jail (sort of like Rikers Island here), where you are sentenced post-conviction. There are pretty clear standards of what constitutes constitutional conditions of confinement, and just from casual news articles, I know this guy isn’t meeting them. What I can’t understand is why he hasn’t been shut down by the federal courts in Phoenix.

  11. Rika says:

    “Ugh, I missed that. Like who cares if you look fat in jail?”

    Yeah really. I unfortunately had to spend 2 and a half days in jail (The judge was on vacation). I had no shampoo or deodorant, I was wearing a ugly baggy orange outfit, and I had no privacy when I used the toilet. I didn’t look or smell great, and I really didn’t give a care. You just don’t care about those things when you’re in jail. So I seriously doubt that any man in jail would be “humiliated” because they had to wear pink underwear.

    Though I wonder why they would want to steal the underwear in the first place.

  12. QueenFrostine says:

    He’s being sued by New Times (a local alternative paper) because he arrested the owners after they wrote an expose on him. There were more shady details that I don’t remember offhand, but I’m pretty sure that a criminal investigation was at least opened on him. The real problem is that the mainstream local media is really easy on him and approving- insisting that he’s a necessary “maverick” who can really take the law in his own hands, and show those bad guys their place. The only regular citizens who actually like him are the minutemen types and the Ron Paul drones. Unfortunately there are way too many of those in the East Valley.

  13. AJ says:

    That dude sounds like a total ass.

    The pink underwear thing reminds me of when I worked at GE. All of the big, upright, oscillating fans on the shop floor were painted pink. I guess the fans would get stolen quite frequently, until somebody painted them pink, and nobody has stolen a fan since.

  14. Kathygnome says:

    I seem to remember that they did a study of outcomes and he actually has more repeat offenders than average.

  15. Marksman2000 says:

    Doesn’t surprise me.

    I’ve never met a cop who wasn’t crooked.

  16. Kay Olson says:

    Also, his tent city jails where inmates are living in tents outdoors in the Arizona heat include many unconvicted people held because they cannot afford bail. Not that treating convicted inmates to the Arizona heat is acceptable (daily, for months on end, it is hot enough to cause heat stroke), but as I recall from my time living in the Valley, Arpaio’s influence runs so deep that the MSM doesn’t talk about how anyone who is simply arrested and unable to put up money for bail is subject to his inhumane and obnoxious schemes.

  17. Em says:

    I sorta think the bologna sandwiches would not be the worst of it. If he were really sadistic, he’d make them eat gruel.

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