Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s resolution for 2009 is to make inmates pay for their meals – even though the jail’s food sometimes is rotten, expired or moldy.
It’s an absurd notion, but it’s also a charge the Legislature allows. Arpaio also charges inmates for medical care, and he’s going to ask legislators if he can charge inmates for their beds, too.
The jail is under a federal order to provide the constitutionally mandated level of care, including safe food.
The inmates work about 10 hours a day without pay. Their only money is what they had upon arrival or what family and friends donated to them.
If they must pay for meals, they may not have enough money for medical services, one lawyer noted.
About $900,000 a year might be saved by charging $1.25 a day for meals. Those without money would be fed but would pay if ever jailed again.
Some inmates are in on charges but unconvicted. Others have serious medical needs. And the jail is obligated to feed and treat them, money or no money. Arpaio, get real.