Electric shock, beatings, the withholding of medical care--these are never proper punishment, no matter what the crime. These are punishments the nations of the world agreed to ban in the wake of the Holocaust.

Joe Arpaio has concocted a series of sophisticated public relations campaigns based on the thinly veiled proposition that the human beings in the Maricopa County jail system are enemies of society. These slick campaigns have made him the most popular politician in Arizona, so popular that many observers expect him to run for governor. These PR campaigns have also created a climate in which human beings could be considered as less than human, a climate that has fostered barbaric mistreatment of jail inmates.

Deaths and disorder at the county jails have given Sheriff Arpaio repeated opportunities to publicly denounce inhumanity by his officers, to call for an end to the barbarism there. Time after time, he has waffled, and equivocated, and, ultimately, refused to make that denunciation. By those refusals, Joe Arpaio has marked himself as a dangerous man--and one who has no legitimate place in public leadership.


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