A few of us met with Sheriff Joe Arpaio this past summer to ask him some burning questions. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department has been scrutinized for the number of Mexican death(s) and racial profiling conducted under his watch. As a veteran who served the Armed Forces during Gulf War I, I told him I was literally brought to my knees with tears when I learned of a Latino veteran (Ernest Atencio) who died in his prison system. Arpaio’s public affairs director stepped in and assisted with pointed questions we had of MCSO, where we were told that the Phoenix Police Department had blood on their hands, too, see video here.
For years, a National radio political talk show host via Carlos Galindo has not limited the high immigrant arrests to just Arpaio. Let it be recorded Galindo was the first outspoken individual who has criticized the Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department for having more immigrant arrests than Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
That said, I am happy to hear of Sheriff Joe Arpaio who appears to be going in the right direction with our Veterans who may be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder or PSTD. We must not have another situation as it relates to the Atencio death, and while this is a small step in right direction (of many more steps), I hope no more mishaps will occur with Veterans who are enduring psychological disorders in light of their service to our Nation.
Here is a new press release from Arpaio’s office:
For Release: December 10, 2013
CONTACT: Joaquin Enriquez (480) 318-4846
Sheriff Arpaio Announces 150 Military Veteran Inmates to Be
Housed Together in Jail
Segregated Housing to Facilitate Needed Training & Services
(Phoenix, AZ) In his latest initiative to continue honoring U.S. military veterans,
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is announcing that he will house approximately 150 military
veteran-inmates together in a segregated section of the Towers Jail facility. A
press conference is scheduled for Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 2 p.m. at
Towers Jail (Towers Jail 3127 W. Gibson Lane Phoenix, AZ 85009) to introduce
the media to the new military veterans housing unit that features patriotic
décor. Sheriff Arpaio will be on hand.
Arpaio explained in a letter distributed to the military veteran-inmates who are
serving time in one of the seven county jails operated by the Maricopa County
Sheriff’s Office, including Tent City Jail which utilizes military tents, that he is
doing this to provide them with the extra assistance they may need that is unique
to those who have served the country in the armed forces.
“We have an obligation to do all we can for all those who have worn the uniform
in defense of this country,” said Arpaio. “They fight for us overseas, so, we must
fight for them here. When their duty is done, ours has just begun.”
Behavioral programming associated with post-traumatic stress disorder is one of
the programs to be offered to the veteran-inmates. Additional programs will
include job training and housing assistance services.
The range of charges for the military veteran-inmates in the jail system is
extensive and includes Probation Violations, Aggravated DUI, Shoplifting,
Narcotics (possession, sale, paraphernalia), Burglary, and Aggravated Assault.
Sheriff Arpaio has made hiring military veterans a priority, a priority that has
resulted in the employment of nearly 100 veterans in the Maricopa County
Sheriff’s Office over the last 18 months. Arpaio has also placed American flags on
each jail cell, a program that comes with a punishment of bread and water for any
inmate that defaces the honored emblem of our country. And each day inmates
are asked to sing “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner” as it is
played on the PA system.
As for the military veteran inmates, Arpaio has stated that he sees their
circumstances as extraordinary and that he is simply responding to report after
report that indicates returning veterans could suffer from PTSD and other mental
Here is Sheriff Arpaio’s letter that includes his reasoning behind today’s
Dear U.S. Military Veteran:
On behalf of the citizens of Maricopa County and of the United States, I am proud
to inform you that my office is taking the initiative of instituting the Incarcerated
Veteran’s Assistance Program.
When you made the choice to serve your country in the Armed Forces, you wrote
a blank check to all citizens promising to defend their freedom and way of life
unconditionally. This program is our way of letting you know that we have not
forgotten that commitment despite whatever circumstances in your life have
landed you into the custody of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
It is my hope that this program will give you the tools and opportunity to address
issues that you are facing in your life and will assist you in getting back on your
feet and back to the way of life that you served to protect.
Together with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and
Maricopa County Correctional Health Services, this program will allow you to be
housed with other incarcerated veterans and will also provide a conduit for you to
access jail programs and services such as:
o Mental Health/Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment
o Substance Abuse Education and Counseling
o Housing Assistance
o Job Training
o Thinking for Change
From one veteran to another, thank you for your service to this great nation and I
wish you luck on your journey back into our communities.
Maricopa County Sheriff