by Les Weaver
Clash Daily Contributor
First we must answer the question of “who is in charge” of Incarceration Palaces, once identified as jail and/or prisons? Do not confuse Jails with State or Federal prisons, although I believe they should equally be addressed herein for the same solution for those found guilty of crime.
Few citizens are aware that the highest law enforcement officials are our County Sheriffs. This is because they are elected by the people and therefore should be under the direction of the people and the laws the people approve. The warden of the County jails is also that Sheriff that was elected by the people. The Attorney General is often addressed as the “Top Cop” but he/she is appointed as is the Secretary of DHS, FBI and others. U. S. Marshalls are hired or appointed as are the heads of State Police. State and Federal Prison Wardens are not elected but rather appointed by politicians, sometimes suspected as a covert reward.
But over the years, the power of the local Sheriff has been eroded by State and Federal legislators. Politicians control the purse strings. These politicians make sure the elected “people’s top cop”, (Sheriff) knows that the purse they control morphs into control of the Sheriff and his/her jail, (aka legal extortion?).
But there has been push back. Most citizens and non-citizens have heard of “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ (Phoenix). Although progressive politicians, including the federal government have attempted to unseat or even jail Sheriff Joe, at over 80, he is running for his seventh consecutive four year term. That means that the people support him, only some of the politicians don’t and mostly because he won’t embrace the posteriors of the politicians or the incarcerated.
Sheriff Arpaio leads more than 3,500 sworn and civilian employees and has at his call an unpaid, volunteer “Sheriff’s Posse” of more than 2,000 that is composed of many talents and specialties; i.e. search and rescue, emergency assistance to law enforcement and more. His accomplishments are more envied than disparaged by his peer Sheriffs. (For more detailed insight to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office, go to: Web; http://www.mcso.org/About/Sheriff.aspx : Twitter: @RealSheriffJoe ; Facebook: /sheriffjoearpaio ). These sites also answer most questions about Arpaio’s Tent City Jail.
With an inmate population that has ranged from 7,500 to 10,000, (2,000 in the tent city), and considering the four million populace of Maricopa Co, AZ, it becomes a large jail populace for the citizen taxpayers to support in a modern Incarceration Palace. Shortly after his election as Sheriff in 1993, Joe established a “no nonsense” extension of his jail, often referred to as Arpaio’s Tent City Jail”, (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/tent-city-jail-where-prisoners-wear-pink-and-swelter-in-120-degree-heat/article/2546924 ). Arpaio’s tent city jail houses only court-convicted inmates. Although many politicians and “do-gooders” complain, file charges and cry the blues, Sheriff Arpaio continues to not only push back but also survive because the majority of the citizens he serves continue to back him and his successes in the face of constant political attack by liberal progressives. (The people and Joe continue to win!)
In the last ten years, my peers and I have had to approve increases in our tax base to support newer and larger jails and more personnel to house and service even more accused and court proven “bad-guys”. I use the term “service” because unlike Sheriff Arpaio’s jail, most jail and prison staffs are required to follow rules established by politicians and provide both service and amenities that accurately have elevated most jails and prisons to Incarceration Palaces.
It is apparent that most law enforcement has either volunteered or been ordered to ignore that incarceration is not just to remove the criminal from society but also to punish. Not all jails and prisons have all of these comfort amenities but few are like Arpaio’s Tent City Jail where he does not provide what has become the norm. For example: civilian clothes, television and radio, personal computers, cell cooking facilities, outside unmonitored communication, special religious diets, change of sex medical treatment, marriage, conjugal visits, cell decorations…
I do not advocate that we revert to the death penalty for stealing a loaf of bread or severing the hand of a thief, but I stand to: “Steal a nickel; rob a bank; your title is thief”. I for one am damned tired of waving the index finger of shame’s being considered a punishment. Arpaio has the lowest return rate to his tent city jail. (Some straighten up but many move to “progressive“ States or counties like the one I live in). Joe’s tent incarceration is a positive indicator that even a month in that type of environment is both punishment and lesson. It should be the first level for would-be criminals. State and Federal Prisons should provide no better so that they no longer are Incarceration Palaces that too many criminals no longer fear.
Until politicians are exposed whenever they neuter law enforcement officers, no longer have the final say on critical law and prison officials appointments as rewards, and are prosecuted for promoting the issuances of contracts for construction of Incarceration Palaces by sponsors to their re-election; yes until then, crime will continue to grow. We want to weed out any bad cops but first weed out the uninformed, self-serving, power hungry politicians that fester bad cops. It is going to be tough because too many politicians see the criminals and their families as potential votes and these have begun to outnumber the “good guys”.
Let us hope that because of the most recent escapes of convicted murderers in NY and NC, the purge of unqualified, rewarded Wardens cease. Then let’s construct some tent cities in remote areas for incarceration and convert the Incarceration Palaces back to the punishment prisons and jails the tax-paying public expected.