Even before Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the mere mention of the pardon as a possibility seemed to ignite controversy and fierce debate. Here's what you need to know about the former sheriff and his controversial pardon:
Why did Joe Arpaio need pardoning in the first place?
The 85-year-old former Arizona county sheriff was found guilty in federal court for criminal contempt for disobeying a court order to end patrols targeting immigrants.
CNN described the case as a “racial profiling case” that involved “continuing patrols targeting immigrants” and said “Arpaio has contended the order wasn’t clear and he didn’t intend to violate it.”
AZCentral reported, “U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow ordered Arpaio in 2011 to stop enforcing immigration law because his deputies were pulling over people based solely upon the color of their skin. Never mind that some of those people were American citizens or immigrants legally in the United States.”
The Phoenix New Times said, "A federal judge has found former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court, ruling that the six-term sheriff showed 'flagrant disregard' for a court order telling his agency to stop racially profiling Latinos."
After his conviction the paper spoke to victims of Arpaio who expressed their bitter sweet feelings about the ruling,
"No amount of money can repay for what he did to me. He ruined my career, he ruined my health, and he certainly took two and a half years out of my life that I'd like back. I'm glad he got something, but I don't think it was anywhere near harsh enough. I feel sorry for the county taxpayers. He's a lying, conniving, demented old man. Karma's a bitch."
His sentence hearing was set for Oct. 5. He faced 6 months in prison, but of course he won't be attending that hearing anymore because before he could serve any time, President Trump pardoned him.
Here are some of the most shocking reports of Arpaio's time as Sheriff:
- The alarming rate at which prisoners in his jails committed suicide and the mysterious circumstances behind the deaths of at least 73 others.
- The time a man baked to death in his cell.
- The time he ran an ongoing "mugshot of the day" contest on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office website. The website has since been taken down, but the humiliation lives on for the thousands of faces displayed on the site. The mug shots were of people charged, not convicted of a crime. Even if charges were eventually dropped, their mugshots lived on in infamy, thanks to "Sheriff Joe."
- The time he framed an innocent man for trying to murder him.
- The time one of his deputies burned a puppy alive during a botched SWAT raid that resulted in the arrest of a 25-year-old who had a warrant out for unpaid traffic tickets.
- This headline from the Washington Examiner, "Arizona's Tent City Jail: Where prisoners wear pink underwear, eat meatless meals and swelter in the 120-degree heat."
- The time he didn't investigate hundreds of sex abuse cases involving children.
- When he bragged about forcing inmates to watch The Food Network after he starved them for weeks on end. He said he fed his dogs better than the inmates in his jails.
- A 2009 New Yorker profile by William Finnegan revealed that most of the “criminals” in Arpaio’s jail were awaiting trial. The majority of them hadn't even been convicted of a crime yet. That didn't stop him for punishing them though.
"New ideas for the humiliation of people in custody—whom the sheriff calls, with persuasive disgust, 'criminals,' although most are actually awaiting trial, not convicted of any crime—kept occurring to him. He put his inmates in black-and-white striped uniforms. The shock value of these retro prisoner outfits was powerful and complex. There was comedy, nostalgia, dehumanization, even a whiff of something annihilationist. He created female chain gangs, 'the first in the history of the world,' and, eventually, juvenile chain gangs. The chain gangs’ tasks include burying the indigent at the county cemetery, but mainly they serve as spectacles in Arpaio’s theatre of cruelty. “I put them out there on the main streets,” he told me. 'So everybody sees them out there cleaning up trash, and parents say to their kids, ‘Look, that’s where you’re going if you’re not good.’ ”
In an interview for “The Joe Show,” a documentary on Arpaio’s tenure as sheriff, he showed little to no remorse for any of his aforementioned actions. Instead, he expressed delight with how easy it was to get away with it all.
“It’s amazing what I say, and what I do, and what I get away with. It’s amazing," he said.
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert defended Trump's decision to pardon Arpaio during a interview on ABC News's “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,
“It was a contempt order and not an issue of his job or not his job. I really don’t know the details of it. I think there’s a clemency argument that can be made for the long history of service, both in the United States military and in law enforcement, for the sheriff," he said.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach also defended the decision. He told Lawrence Journal-World,
"Joe Arpaio steadfastly enforced the law while the Obama administration rewarded illegal immigration and even (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents to break the law. A pardon is therefore appropriate."
Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones also tweeted in support.