Sheriff Joe Costs Arizona $200 Million Just Being Himself

by Walter Einenkel –

joe arpaio 3

attribution: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is famous for his fiscal conservatism.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s officials misspent $99.5 million in restricted jail funds over the last eight years, according to a Wednesday morning briefing by county budget officials who spent the past six months researching the issue.Budget officials said $84.7 million was misspent from the detention fund, while another $14.8 million in inmate-services funds were misspent.

Sheriff Joe is famous for his tough but Solomon-like fairness in how he treats the citizens of Maricopa County.Shop DealCraze

A federal judge ruled Friday that the office of America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark immigration patrols, marking the first finding by a court that the agency racially profiles people.The decision by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow in Phoenix backs up years of allegations from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s critics who say his officers violate the constitutional rights of Latinos in relying on race in their immigration enforcement.

Boss Hog Sheriff Joe likes to boast that he’s saving tax payers $20,000 by ridding prison meals of salt and pepper. Joe’s big achievement is the Civil War-era style “Tent City” prison system he created.

It’s unclear exactly how much Tent City cost when it was built back in 1993, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately provide us with a figure. But in the press release celebrating the 500,000 milestone, Arpaio points out that a “hard facility” costs between $41 million and $50 million, and that Tent City cost “millions less.”

That’s vaguely a lot of money. Too bad for math.

But what Arpaio doesn’t note in his stream of press releases about Tent City is that inmate abuses and misuse of funds in the jail system he oversees have cost the county nearly $200 million over the last 15 years.

The abuses have been written about ad nauseam. They include everything from truly inhumane prisoner abuses to illegally investigating political rivals. It’s the full gamut of virtually every ring of fire in Dante’s Inferno. What has Arizona got for all of this ethical disintegration–besides losing money?

It is difficult to assess precisely how well MCSO is fulfilling its core law enforcement function, largely because MCSO’s record-keeping is inadequate and inaccurate. In 2006, MCSO reported a lower crime rate than other Maricopa County law-enforcement agencies. Sheriff Arpaio’s biography on the MCSO website says that the sheriff “continues to reduce crime with hard-hitting enforcement methods.” But apart from references to specific cases, the website provides no support for the proposition that crime rates are decreasing within MCSO’s jurisdiction. To the contrary, the available statistics reported by MCSO to the Federal Bureau of Investigations suggest a substantial increase in violent crimes, particularly homicides, over the past several years.

[bold my emphasis]

Luckily, Arizona is working hard to insure that its education system matches it’s leadership by cutting the education budget. If Arizona’s next generation does math as well as Sheriff Joe does, then -$199,980,000.00 seems like a pretty good deal. What does that subtraction symbol mean at the front of the dollar sign anyway? Probably some latin thingy, right?


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos