Arpaio Snuggles Up to an Ex-Inmate in His Cynical Bid for a Sixth Term

Portrait of desperation: Arpaio and former jailbird "Randall" share a moment.

How stupid does Sheriff Joe Arpaio think the citizens of Maricopa County are?

At least as stupid as "Randall," a supposed former meth addict who claims in one of Arpaio's campaign commercials that she got straight in Joe's jails during one of several stints there.

"I thought my life was over," Randall tells us, as soft, syrupy music plays in the background. "But I enrolled in Sheriff Joe's drug-rehab program in Tent City. I got myself cleaned up, and I got my life back."

Then comes the line sure to cause nausea among the normal.

"I never thought I'd say this," smiles the woman, who looks like she may be in her late 20s. "But thank you, Sheriff Joe."

The 30-second ad ends with a shot of Arpaio, looking every one of his 80 years, with his arm around her.

I haven't spotted this one on the boob tube, yet. Only online.

Another one (which I have seen on TV) regales us with Arpaio's daring deeds as an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This, before becoming sheriff.

Oddly, these adventures include getting "kidnapped," according to the ad featuring Joe's bio.

However, the sheriff's supposed abduction never is mentioned in either of his lie-filled memoirs, co-authored with crony Len Sherman ("Sheriff Joe Buffaloes Readers," June 26, 2008).

Nor has Joe ever spoken of being kidnapped, as far as I can tell.

And as I reported in a recent item on my Feathered Bastard blog, ex-DEA honcho Phil Jordan, onetime head of the DEA's El Paso Intelligence Unit, says he wasn't buying Joe's bull, that he knew of all kidnappings of DEA agents. And an Arpaio kidnapping wasn't one of them.

But then, Joe's not one to let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.

The third Arpaio re-election spot I'm aware of features kiddies on swings, with Joe telling us how they are "da future" and need "strong families, good schools, and safe neighborhoods to thrive."

You'll note "freedom from child molesters" ain't on Joe's list of prerequisites. How could it be, when his office botched more than 400 sex crimes in El Mirage and elsewhere, many of them involving children who were raped repeatedly by their tormenters because the MCSO failed them?

But back to Randall, who, assuming she was a real inmate and isn't suffering from delayed Stockholm Syndrome, should have that space between her ears inspected for rocks.

Sorry. I'm happy if Randall kicked her habit. But her shilling for Arpaio is disingenuous on so many levels.

I can only hope she got paid for her nuzzling a sadistic creep like Arpaio, who brags about the cruel conditions in his jails and the fact that he feeds his dogs better than he feeds his inmates.

True to form, Arpaio's re-election campaign e-mailed the YouTube video of the Randall ad to prospective donors with an appeal for cash.

Seems $4 million-plus in his war chest isn't enough for this money-grubbing octogenarian. Maybe he's squeezed all he can out of the birther boneheads and now must go after the bleedin' hearts.

"A major part of my jail policies focus on helping those that are addicted to drugs," Arpaio lies in the fund-raising appeal. "The ALPHA programs in our jails continue to be a tremendous success in helping inmates fight their dependency on narcotics.

"This ad tells the story of a young woman named Randall who was addicted to meth, went to Tent City, and turned her life around after participating in the ALPHA program."

The truth is that the ALPHA drug-treatment program involves a very small percentage of inmates. The last published figures I found were for 2008. At that time, the program boasted 7,000 enrollees and 4,000 graduates in a span of 11 years.

Sounds impressive, at first. But according to a 2009 audit done of the MCSO by the county, the average daily population for MCSO jails in 2008 was running between 8,000 and 10,000 bodies per day.

Sure, the ALPHA program is great for those who qualify for it, but that's a drop in the proverbial bucket.

According to an MCSO brochure, the six-week course is for sentenced inmates. About 70 percent of those in county jails are pre-trial detainees, meaning they are awaiting trial or waiting to get bailed out.

And there's no getting around the fact that Arpaio's gulags are dangerous places, where it's not uncommon to die while you're doing that waiting.

In fact, you may not have to wait long. Marty Atencio didn't. The 44-year-old Army vet was mentally ill, off his meds, and wandering the streets not too far from where he lived when Phoenix police picked him up after his erratic behavior scared a woman last year.

He was taken to Arpaio's notorious Fourth Avenue Jail, where he was jumped by MCSO detention officers and Phoenix cops, Tased, beaten mercilessly, and left naked in a holding cell to die, as his jailers laughed and mocked him.

Atencio has a family that loved and misses him. His wrongful death now is the subject of a $20 million notice of claim, the precursor to another in a long line of jail-atrocity lawsuits against Arpaio.

As this newspaper has reported time and again, cruelty comes with a price tag. Over the two-decade span that Arpaio has been sheriff, wrongful deaths and other jail-related torts have cost taxpayers more than $50 million in legal fees, settlements, and awards.

In the case of Deborah Braillard's untimely demise, it's already cost the county $1.8 million in legal fees. And that was before the civil trial in Braillard v. Maricopa County began this month.

After it's over, it will cost us far more.

It cost Jennylee Braillard her mother and Jennylee's baby girl her grandma.

As Village Voice Executive Editor Michael Lacey recounted in a 2010 cover story ("What's a Mom Worth?" December 9), Braillard, a diabetic, was arrested in 2005 on a minor drug-possession charge.

For four days, fellow inmates watched in horror as the 46-year-old Braillard, denied her insulin, slipped into a diabetic coma, as she moaned in pain, begged for help, vomited, and soiled herself repeatedly.

Other inmates demanded she be tended to, but the MCSO guards told them, "She's getting what she deserves," and, "This is jail . . . Get over it."

These goons, both male and female, thought Braillard was in withdrawal from a controlled substance. Never mind that she could have died that way, as well. But she wasn't coming off anything: Tests later showed she was drug-free.

By the time officials, spurred on by Braillard's daughter, moved her to the hospital, it was too late. Eighteen agonizing days later, her internal organs shut down and her body bloated by fluids, Braillard died, just as surely as if she'd been pummeled and Tased like Marty Atencio.

Just as Charles Agter, Scott Norberg, and Clint Yarbrough were offed in restraint chairs by MCSO thugs; just as Phillip Wilson and Brian Crenshaw were beaten to death, the former by members of the Aryan Brotherhood, the latter by MCSO guards.

I'm out of space before I'm out of names of those who were unfortunate enough to die in Arpaio's dungeons or his Tent City "concentration camp" (his words, not mine).

"Thank you, Sheriff Joe?" Please.

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