People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is celebrating Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails.
Of course, PETA's not celebrating the jails for its treatment of human beings, but for how Arpaio's compassionate to animals for implementing a vegan diet at the jails.
Never mind the photo at the top of this page of Army veteran Marty Atencio, who died in 2011 after being brutalized by guards at one of Arpaio's jails, or any of the others who've died in MCSO custody -- PETA and PETA celebrity spokeswoman Pamela Anderson are coming to celebrate.
The following is from an MCSO press release:
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio welcomes People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and PETA spokesperson Pamela Anderson on Wednesday, April 15th to showcase the first all-vegetarian meal in our nation's jails. Anderson and PETA Senior Vice President Dan Mathews hold the Sheriff's Maricopa County Jail System as a model for jails and prisons across the country in regard to serving healthy, cost-effective, meat-free meals to inmates.
"I am proud of our jail system," says Sheriff Arpaio, "which surely ranks among the best in the nation, and am very gratified that our vegetarian meals are being recognized and lauded by PETA today. Those meals, which translate to serving an average of 8300 inmates each day, are both nutritious and well-balanced and lower in cost than you'll find in any other jail anywhere."
"I believe people can be rehabilitated from the inside out," states Ms. Anderson, a longtime vegan. "Jails are full of people wanting to change, to make amends, to learn healthier habits and understand compassion and empathy."
We asked the folks at PETA whether the promotion of "Ethical Treatment of Animals" applies to humans, given Arpaio's track record with the jail deaths and racial profiling.
Mathews, PETA's senior VP, tells New Times, "We're not participating in any local politics at all."
Mathews says that right now, Maricopa County is the only place in the country where a jail or prison serves vegan meals to inmates.
"The impact of 8,300 people a day not eating animals is just something we can't ignore," Mathews says.
Arpaio's long portrayed himself a defender of animals, and according to Arpaio's former Deputy Chief Brian Sands, it's a political move.
"Arpaio once told me that the aggressive animal abuse image he developed was a political goldmine, as it brought a number of Democrats into his base," Sands wrote in his self-published book, Arpaio De Facto Lawman. "That certainly became apparent as I would hear people say they were against Arpaio, but because he defended animals, he was great."
In the MCSO press release on PETA's and Anderson's visit, Arpaio touts the savings to the taxpayers with his vegan diet.
Meanwhile, New Times' Stephen Lemons reported last week that the racial-profiling lawsuits against Arpaio have cost more than $14 million to the taxpayers at this point, and there have been plenty of lawsuits settled for millions of dollars for various abuses on Arpaio's watch.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
But don't worry, the animals are okay.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.