28 January 2009

Lounging in the pink pokey

Ok, I found this e-mail that I received pretty interesting. I don't know if it's true, so take that as a big ol' caveat, but the idea alone is amusing.

I used to be a supporter of the death penalty and also thought that if prisons were more like dungeons (dank, dark and no cable TV) then criminals would be less likely to treat prison time like a day at the spa. Today, I have a problem with the death penalty because I don't like the government to be in the business of killing its own people, but certainly can see how others support it. I also don't think a dungeon is necessarily humane treatment, but question why there are so many perks for inmates that I don't even have in my own home because I can't afford them.

Some days it's almost worth committing a crime just to be locked up and have the ability to watch the Oxygen network.

But, back on the topic of prisons, I had a good friend in college who was from France. One day she was going on about how awful the British prisons were a few short hundred years ago (think Tower of London). And, I said, "At least they weren't French prisons (think Les Mis)." To this day, the glare I got still gives me chills.

Below is what I received about one man's efforts in the AZ prison system.

You all remember Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, who painted the jail cells pink and made the inmates wear pink prison garb. Well...SHERIFF JOE IS AT IT AGAIN!

Maricopa County was spending approx. $18 million dollars a year on stray animals, like cats and dogs. Sheriff Joe offered to take the department over, and the County Supervisors said okay.

The animal shelters are now all staffed and operated by prisoners. They feed and care for the strays. Every animal in his care is taken out and walked twice daily. He now has prisoners who are experts in animal nutrition and behavior. They give great classes for anyone who'd like to adopt an animal. He has literally taken stray dogs off the street, given them to the care of prisoners, and had them place in dog shows.

The best part? His budget for the entire department is now under $3 million. Teresa and I adopted a Weimaraner from a Maricopa County shelter two years ago. He was neutered, and current on all shots, in great health, and even had a microchip inserted the day we got him. Cost us $78. The prisoners get the benefit of about $0.28 an hour for working, but most would work for free, just to be out of their cells for the day. Most of his budget is for utilities, building maintenance, etc. He pays the prisoners out of the fees collected for adopted animals.

I have long wondered when the rest of the country would take a look at the way he runs the jail system, and copy some of his ideas. He has a huge farm, donated to the county years ago, where inmates can work, and they grow most of their own fresh vegetables and food, doing all the work and harvesting by hand. He has a pretty good sized hog farm, which provides meat, and fertilizer. It fertilizes the Christmas tree nursery, where prisoners work, and you can buy a living Christmas tree for $6-$8 for the Holidays, and plant it later. We have six trees in our yard from the Prison.

Yup, he was re-elected last year with 83% of the vote. Now he's in trouble with the ACLU again. He painted all his buses and vehicles with a mural, that has a special hotline phone number painted on it, where you can call and report suspected illegal aliens. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement wasn't doing enough in his eyes, so he had 40 deputies trained specifically for enforcing immigration laws, started up his hotline, and bought 4 new buses just for hauling folks back to the border. He's kind of a 'Git-R Dun' kind of Sheriff.



He created the 'Tent City Jail'.

He has jail meals down to .40 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.

He stopped smoking and porno magazines in the jails. Took away their weights and cut off all but 'G' movies.

He started chain gangs so the inmates could do free work on county and city projects.

Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.

He took away cable TV until he found out there was a Federal Court order that required cable TV for jails, so he hooked up the cable TV again only letting in the Disney and Weather Channel.

When asked why the weather channel? He replied, "So they will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on the Chain Gang".

He cut off coffee since it has zero nutritional value.

When the inmates complained, he told them, "this isn't the Ritz Carlton...if you don't like it, Don't Come Back."

He bought Newt Gingrich's lecture series on videotape; that he pipes into the jails for the inmates to enjoy! Not!

When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied "a democratic lecture series might explain why a lot of the inmates are in his jail in the first place."

With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116 Degrees), the Associated Press reports: About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed-wire-surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.

On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing boxers were either curled up on their bunk beds or chatting in the tents; which reached 138 degrees inside the week before...many were also swathed in wet, pink towels as sweat collected on their chests and dripped down to their PINK SOCKS.

'It feels like we are in a furnace,' said James Zanzot, an inmate who has lived in the TENTS for 1 year. 'It's Inhumane.' he stated.

Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy sheriff who created the tent city and long ago started making his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. He said Wednesday that he told all of the inmates: "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to wear full battle gear.

But they didn't commit any crimes, so Shut Your Mouths!"

Way To Go, Sheriff! Maybe if all prisons were like this one there would be
a lot less crime and or repeat offenders. Criminals should be punished for their crimes - not live in luxury until it's time for their parole, only to go out and commit another crime so they can come back to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things some taxpayers can't afford to have for themselves.


Adoro said...

I leanred about him when I was in college studying Criminal Justice. I do wish more sheriffs would run their jails like this, and I wish prisons would be run this way.

I'm curious, though, to know if it does really work to rehabilite the prisoners. In theory, it should...he's making it uncomfortable, AND he's training them in real valid skills. Those factors are at work in some prisons, just not to the same extreme.

I could probably get the answer to my question if I just did a little research.

mum6kids said...

I too would be interested in the reoffending rate. Nightmares of pink socks and pants should surely help build virtue.
On a serious note; I am sure animal care teaches responsibility. It's why we let our kids have pets after all. I bet there's oodles of research backing this up. The therapeutic value of being around animals has been researched and shown to be high which is why people take dogs to homes for the elderly and disabled. It seems to me this Sherrif has a wise balance in his approach to his prisoners. Punishment and rehabilitation combined.

Angela M. said...

He sounds wonderful! Maybe we can send heretics to him so they can be straightened out!

Kit said...

Love that guy! I voted for Joe years ago when I lived in Scottsdale, darn right I did, and I've loved watching his legend grow.

gemoftheocean said...

He ROCKS. But there's always some a'hole of a governor or court order somewhere to spring people who have no business being out of jail--which is precisely why I'm in favor of the death penalty in some cases. You can be damn sure they'll never do whatever it was they did to deserve it again, no matter how many bleeding heart politicians there are.