by Pa Rock
Arizona is still in the throes of a budget crisis, one that the state's Republican legislators and Republican governor are trying to solve by themselves, without soliciting or even accepting any advice from the state's elected Democrats. Of course, being Republicans, they are averse to the one solution that could realistically raise revenue - new taxes. They have finally agreed to put a temporary sales tax before the voters because that would keep the onus on the poor, the people who traditionally have to put a greater percentage of their income into sales tax.
Governor Brewer came up with one other gem of an idea. She proposed closing down the state's Department of Juvenile Corrections and turning its duties over to the individual counties. There are currently 400 young people housed in Arizona's juvenile lock-ups and 500 more on parole. Obviously the counties are in no position to take on this added burden.
Not to worry! Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio said this week that he would take the young people into his gulag - err...uh...jail system. Arpaio has been criticized by groups like Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arizona Ecumenical Council, the American Jewish Committee, and the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League for the way he deals with county prisoners and runs his jails. He likes to make headlines through stunts such as feeding green bologna to his prisoners and making them wear pink underwear, practices that have led some observers to regard him as a super cop while others see him as a geriatric sadist. He refers to himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff," but the editorial board of The New York Times sees him quite differently, labeling Arpaio "America's Worst Sheriff."
Joe lives for controversy - and publicity. He would undoubtedly like nothing better than to turn juvenile offenders into full-blown Arizona convicts through some twisted and well publicized tough love program.
But that is one wet dream that our sheriff will have to put on hold. Apparently the budget planners decided today to spare the Department of Juvenile Corrections - at least for the time being. Hopefully the young offenders will use this reprieve to change their wicked ways, because old Joe is gonna get them if they don't watch out!