Who is Crazy Joe? He is the incumbent Maricopa, Arizona Sheriff who created the "Tent City Jail." (See 1999 CNN Photo at left.) Jail meals cost 40 cents a serving and he charges the inmates for the food.
Has Crazy Joe's reforms always been legal? No. The sheriff's removal of cable TV violated A Federal Court Order requiring jails to be equipped with cable t.v. so that privilege was reinstated. However, Crazy Joe restricted the channels to The Disney Channel And The Weather Channel. He also piped in Newt Gingrich's lecture series.
How does Crazy Joe handle complaints? Sheriff has been quoted as telling inmates,"This is not the Ritz/Carlton.....If you don't like it, don't come back."
What was the problem?
Maricopa county was apparently spending $18 million dollars a year on stray
cats and dogs.
What did he promise to do about the problem? Sheriff Joe offered to run animal control and promised that he could cut the tax payers bill by at least a third.
What did the Sheriff do? He staffed the animal shelters 100% with prisoners. Inmates
feed and care for all of the strays. Every animal is walked twice daily. Some prisoners have been educated to the point that they are experts in animal nutrition and behavior. Some inmates even conduct classes for the public on animal care and on animal adoption. Some of the animals cared for by the inmates have even participated in dog shows.
Did the Sheriff keep his promise? You bet! His budget for the entire department is now under $3 million (one sixth of the original budget!)
How much does it cost to adopt a dog from the Maricopa County shelter? A dog that is neutered, and current on all shots, with a microchip locater inserted costs approximately $78.
What is in it for the inmates? Inmates are paid the standard $0.28 an hour; however, the real perk is that they get be out of their cells for the day. Inmates are paid from adoption fees. The bulk of the budget is for building maintenance and utilities.
What other programs does he offer inmates? Crazy Joe uses a large farm donated to the county and has the inmates grow the prison's fresh vegetables by hand. He also staffs a hog farm, which provides meat, and fertilizer. Some of the fertilizer is used at a Christmas tree nursery which employs some of the inmates. ( A Christmas tree can be purchased for under 10 dollars that can actually be planted after the Holidays.)
How do voters like Crazy Joe and his "ideas?" Crazy Joe keeps getting reelected.
Does everyone like the Sheriff? No. He is often at odds with ACLU. For example, he painted county buses with murals, that include a phone number to report suspected illegal aliens. The county apparently operates 4 buses just to transport illegal aliens back to the border. In another example, with global warming like temperature over 115 degrees, some inmates lived in tents surrounded by barb wire. Inmates were allowed to strip down to their "pink boxer shorts." Some inmates have complained that it is inhumane. Joe Arpaio, countered that it is hotter in Iraq and our soldiers have to wear full body armor and they did not commit any crimes.
Does Legal Pub endorse his ideas? At the risk of receiving 100s of email from ACLU supporters, yes. It is worth exploring. Perhaps if all prisons were more like Joe's and less like holiday Inns (See Legal Pub Story LINK HERE) repeat offenders may decrease in numbers. Joe's use of prisoners to staff local humane society and government controlled animal shelters is certainly superior to throwing all convicts into an alligator pit as some have suggested in the Braddy case (LINK) and in the case of the alligator who ate the robber (LINK).