Arpaio's Nameless Defender: Sheriff "Cannot Be Blamed" For Jail Accreditation Loss

Things have been a little out of whack at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's public information office since just after the election, when Paul Chagolla was moved out. Still, we were amused by the anonymous "letter to the editor" posted on Saturday in the news release section of the sheriff's Web site.

The writer says he or she "could not believe my eyes" when reading a January 14 unsigned opinion article by the Arizona Republic about Arpaio's jails losing accreditation. The writer goes on to claim that the editorial's "second sentence" states Arpaio runs the county's Correctional Health Services department:

That is absolutely untrue, factually incorrect and you know it.

Actually, as it reads today, the editorial says no such thing. Perhaps the Republic deleted the allegedly incorrect sentence, or maybe the anonymous writer's comprehension skills need sharpening. We can tell you from experience the sheriff's news release writers don't always accurately convey information.

But the silliest thing in the "letter to the editor" is the claim that because Arpaio doesn't "administer healthcare to inmates," he "therefore cannot be blamed for the loss of accreditation."

In fact, Arpaio's staff does administer health care in the jail, to a certain extent. They attempt to provide health care when trying to restrain inmates. They may decide not to start CPR right away on an inmate who they believe is faking his death. They make health care decisions when they do or don't provide proper medicines to inmates.

All that aside, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care sure seems to be blaming him.

The commission's September letter announcing the revocation (the accreditation loss was later appealed, reinstituted, then yanked again), is addressed to Arpaio and treats the sheriff like he's, you know, in charge of the jails. Which he is.

But Arpaio's taxpayer-funded advocate wants to pass the buck.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.