By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
I must state that the "Letters From Jail" story (December 5) really hit home with me. I've been there and done it, trust me when I say that it's all true, and then some. It is quite a system that "Uncle Joe" Arpaio has come up with. The cruel and unusual punishment, I believe, is just another ploy to get you to sign a plea, even if you're not guilty, just so you can move on out of that hellhole. I spent six months at Uncle Joe's before I couldn't deal with it anymore and signed a plea bargain for two and a half years in the Arizona State Prison. Honestly, I would rather do five years in prison than spend another six months at Joe's.
Excuse me for a second while I wipe the tears that are falling from my eyes. Those poor, poor criminals who have obviously committed some type of crime. How do they do it?
Living in tents, having to deal with less-than-adequate health care, having to put up with the cold and heat, not to mention the food and the roaches. Oh, wait a second, there are children living in the same conditions and they have committed no crimes. These children have no health care, no proper nutrition and no place to rest their tiny, hungry bodies. And let us not forget that while these prisoners moan and groan because they can't get any packages for Christmas, there are children who won't get anything, either. My point to these people, stop your bitching and grow up. You did something wrong, now pay for your actions. I for one do not feel sorry for you.
I read John Mecklin's article against Joe Arpaio with interest in news ("Barbarism As a Public Relations Strategy," December 5). I found only opinion. The article charges, and repeats the charge, that inmates are treated to testicular electric shock and other tortures, yet provides no source. If the source is the inmates, well, no wonder. I am very skeptical of anything an inmate has to say. They are bad people. Inmates are undeserving of any advocacy, yet that is what Mecklin's article attempts. The worst thing about the article was to compare the treatment of POWs to the treatment of criminals. A POW is so far above the ethics and standards of a criminal that it is beyond any reasonable comparison. If Sheriff Joe is "guilty" of torture, he should be prosecuted and put away, not just pushed out of office.
If Mecklin doesn't have proof of his accusations, such as names, dates, times, places, he should be ashamed of his slander and libel against this country's greatest sheriff.
If he does have proof, then he should share it with everyone. The charges he levels had Nazis hung a few decades ago. If he can prove it, he can get Sheriff Joe out of office, as seems to be his agenda.
Editor's note: The source for the column's descriptions of inmate mistreatment is an official U.S. Justice Department report on conditions at Maricopa County jails. The report provides more than sufficient proof of such mistreatment. The investigators who compiled it were well aware that inmates do not always tell the truth.
Under Dick Godbehere, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was known for planting evidence, usually drugs, to justify arrests. Under Tom Agnos, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was known for arresting the wrong suspects for the Buddhist Temple murders, browbeating them into confessions, and detaining them for months, until well after the real killers were found. The subsequent lawsuits cost the county millions. Now, under Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is known for running the county jails like torture chambers and concentration camps.
It's long past time to abolish the sheriff's department. Anarchy is far preferable to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Hitler and the Nazis weren't stopped, and the rest is history. Will someone please stop Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office?
Regarding John Mecklin's column "Barbarism As a Public Relations Strategy," I disagree with the whole article. Does Mecklin expect us to treat inmates to luxury accommodations? If we did, they wouldn't care if they went back. The bottom line is that everybody knows how Sheriff Arpaio runs his jails, and if you don't like it, stay out of trouble and you won't have to deal with it. The only people who bitch about the system are the inmates or people who never have to worry about going to jail. It's the general public's decision--if they don't want to go to the "barbaric" conditions, don't break the law.
I just finished reading the December 5 issue and its continuing expose on the conditions in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails. For months I have been trying to compose a letter about this travesty and have been unsatisfied with my attempts. John Mecklin's column says it all and says what needs to be said. And yet there is so much more to this insanity that has not been told.
I have firsthand knowledge of what goes on in the jails, not as an inmate, but as a friend of someone who recently spent 10 and a half months in jail. Almost half of that time was served waiting for the justice process to complete and not as part of the actual sentence. My friend could not afford an attorney or bail and so was doomed to spend unnecessary months in that hellhole prior to being sentenced. The time there has all but destroyed his mental and physical health and will haunt him for the rest of his life. He was routinely starved, beaten, shackled, threatened, frozen, roasted, cursed at, humiliated and forced to live in filthy, subhuman conditions.
I visited my friend at least 50 times while he was incarcerated, and the toll it was taking on him was evident. On one occasion, he arrived for our visit with blackened eyes and his nose and ribs broken after being assaulted by at least a dozen inmates for not allowing one of them to cut in line for the telephone. On another occasion, he attempted to defend an inmate who was being beaten and ended up with a "contract" on himself. Where were the guards? Certainly, they see what is going on via security cameras.
Pink underwear and chain gangs are the least of the problems facing the inmates. That is just a smoke screen to divert the public's attention from the real problems at the jails. Maggots in the showers, port-a-johns that are overflowing, lack of sufficient clothing and bedding, inadequate, spoiled food totally lacking in nutrition, minimal or nonexistent medical care, and indifferent-to-cruel treatment by the guards are just the tip of the iceberg in this concentration camp.
Sheriff Joe is a dangerous man. Dangerous in that he is too small-minded and self-serving to fully comprehend the magnitude of the responsibility he has taken on. He literally has absolute control over the lives of more than 600 people. All of those lives are connected to other lives. With the exception of people like the Norbergs, most of these families are the voiceless and faceless of Arizona. They suffer in silence because they have no power politically or financially.
Those who are naive enough to support Sheriff Arpaio have most likely never had a direct contact with the jails here. They live in fear of "stranger danger" and blindly believe that they are safer because of "America's toughest sheriff." Look at the statistics, people. You are more likely to be victim of crime today than you were five years ago.
Lest you think I am some bleeding heart, let me state that this is a difficult position for me to take and one that has involved much soul-searching as I am a victim of a violent crime. I just believe there has to be a better way. Joe Arpaio's way just exacerbates the problem.
Regarding the letter from Bill LaBrie disparaging New Times (December 5): LaBrie sanctimoniously claims "the unexamined life is not worth living" and berates New Times for liberal self-interest. Let me remind you, Bill, that two of the three so-called "leaders" who rammed the stadium tax down our throats considered themselves conservatives. New Times was the only voice in town opposing this governmental injustice.
I don't agree with everything New Times publishes, but as a genuine conservative, I'm awfully grateful it's here! I guess good-old-boy conservatives like LaBrie will just have to limit their "political examinations" to fine, upstanding bastions of conservatism like the Arizona Republic.
I share New Times' opinion of Channel 12 reporter Lew Ruggiero's journalistic integrity (Flashes, December 5). Ruggiero is an actual grown-up with intelligence and objectivity, and he appears to be that rare breed of real journalist who questions official self-serving press releases. For instance, I seem to recall that Ruggiero was the first local reporter to challenge that insultingly transparent "press conference" following last summer's Viper Militia raid. At a time when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms desperately needed to justify its existence following the cosmic screw-ups at Ruby Ridge and Waco, Ruggiero didn't swallow the government line. Unlike some of his more breathless "peers" that day, he carefully studied the warrants and indictments and reported early on that this was more about some pathetic good ol' boys fudging on some firearms paperwork than about blowing up government buildings.
Is it too much to hope that more real TV journalists like Lew Ruggiero will take arms against a sea of Ken-and-Barbieisms and, by opposing, end them? Just asking.
Food for Thought
I've been reading New Times for years. I always enjoy the fun it pokes at local government officials. I don't always agree, but it makes me think--thanks for that.
As far as the Red Meat cartoon in the November 28 issue, what exactly is Max Cannon trying to say? Is Milkman Dan having a pedophile experience? Hmmm! Not that it is my place to judge any person on his thoughts or activities, but don't we have enough problems in our society without making light of such a sad dysfunction? If, of course, that is what is being implied.
I hope this isn't an indication of a new direction for New Times.