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California May Free Ill and Elderly Inmates, but Joe Arpaio Offers to Jail Them Instead

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Photo by Matthew Hendley

Due to prison overcrowding in California, state officials there are planning to release about a thousand inmates and relocate thousands more, according to recent media reports.

The plan, according to the Los Angeles Times, is that "low-level criminals, as well as seriously ill and elderly inmates, could be released."

That's not sitting well with Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

See also:
-Jailhouse Goons Make Fun Of and Kill a Mentally Ill Inmate
-Joe Arpaio Celebrating the 20th Birthday of His "Concentration Camp," Tent City

In the elderly Sheriff's latest attempted attention-grab, he released a letter he wrote to California Governor Jerry Brown, asking him not to release the prisoners.

Prisoners, who, according to the L.A. Times, committed low-level, nonviolent crimes. Or "are at least 60, have served at least 25 years of their term and are not sentenced to death or life without parole." Also, those who have a "terminal illness or a severe disability such as Alzheimer's disease or paralysis," the paper reports.

Arpaio suggests the tent method instead. Arpaio claimed his city of tents -- which he once called a "concentration camp" -- is the way to go.

"A release of so many prisoners is not only a threat to the people of California, it is also of serious concern to the citizens of neighboring states, including Arizonans," Arpaio's letter says. "The situation calls for decisive action on the part of those charged with protecting the public. Additionally, throwing open the jail doors is an affront to the entire judicial system and is a bitter blow at the principles underlying the people's faith in our institutions."

Arpaio's accompanying press release clarified the point of the letter: "Arpaio's invitation to tour Tent City or to consider the feasibility of a possible transfer of some of California's inmates to jails here in Maricopa County under Arpaio's jurisdiction has reached the California Governor's Office."

Since Arpaio has such a great record of jailing ill inmates (see: What's Mom Worth?: When a Woman Became Deathly Ill in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Jail, Guards and Nurses Ignored Her Agony), we're sure California prison officials can't wait to just bus over a bunch of inmates to Maricopa County.

Or, maybe Arpaio just wants to spread his "concentration camp" concept to other states. Based on the Times report, it looks like Cali's already got it figured out without Arpaio's, uh, help.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


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