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Joe Arpaio

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Joseph Michael Arpaio (born June 14, 1932) was the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona from 1993 to 2017. As sheriff, he was known for being very conservative, as well as tough on crime and on illegal immigration. Civil rights organizations such as the ACLU and SPLC, among others, attacked his racial pro-filing of hispanic Americans. Arpaio became Sheriff of Maricopa County in 1992 and was re-elected six times. As sheriff, Arpaio headed up the law enforcement agency for the unincorporated area surrounding Phoenix, an area of 9,226 square miles.[1]

Early life

Arpaio is the son of immigrant parents, both from Lacedonia, Italy.[2] His mother died in childbrith, and Arpaio was raised by his father in Springfield, Massachusetts. Arpaio enlisted in the Army at age 18. He served in the Army from 1950 to 1954 in the Medical Department and was stationed in France for part of the time as a military policeman.[3]

Arpaio was discharged from the Army in 1954, and moved to Washington, D.C. where he became a police officer. He moving in 1957 to Las Vegas, Nevada and served as a police officer for six months. Arpaio then worked as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which later became part of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).[4] Arpaio worked for the DEA for 25 years was promoted to head of the DEA's Arizona operations.


In 2012, he and a group of volunteer investigators claimed to have evidence suggesting that Barack Obama deliberately forged his birth records in order to be eligible to run for President.[5]

Arpaio has been politically active both in Arizona and beyond. For example, in 2010, Arpaio campaigned in Kansas for Kris Kobach in his bid for Secretary of State.[6] Arpaio endorsed Donald Trump for President in January 2016.[7]

Sheriff of Maricopa County

Arpaio was elected Sheriff of Maricopa County in 1992 and was re-elected in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.[8]

In August 1993, Arpaio started the nation’s largest "tent city" for convicted inmates. The facility held two thousand convicted men and women in canvas tents, something which was criticized by liberals for not having air conditioning in over 100° heat[9] and for having inmates subjected to the elements.[10] Those conditions resulted in inmate lawsuits, and Arpaio's Democrat succesor is closing down the facility which he estimates will save $4.5 million per year.[11]

Arpaio drew criticism for his handling of sexual offenses, with at least 400 cases, including several involving child sexual abuse, being 'inadequately investigated' if investigated at all. Some have connected this apparent negligence with the fact that in many cases the victims were illegal immigrants.[12] During the years 2004 to 2009, Maricopa County paid $14.5 million in claims regarding the sheriff's office, and another $6.4 million for claims against the jail health service for failure to diagnose, deliberate indifference and suicides.[13]

Arpaio and then County Attorney Andrew Thomas launched an "anti-corruption" project that targeted their political enemies and local reporters between 2008 and 2010. Ultimately, all criminal charges were dropped, and the county had to settle lawsuits filed by those that Arpaio and Thomas arrested for a total of $17 million.[14][15]

In 1999, undercover deputies arrested 18-year old James Saville for plotting to kill Arpaio with a pipe bomb. On July 9, 2003, a Maricopa County Superior Court jury acquitted Saville, finding that the bomb plot was an elaborate publicity stunt to boost Arpaio's reelection bid.[16] In 2004, Saville sued both Arpaio and Maricopa County for wrongful arrest and entrapment, seeking $10 million in damages. In 2008, the suit was settled by Maricopa County paying Saville $1.6 million.[13][17][18]

Subsequent events

Arpaio was defeated for re-election for a seventh term in November 2016.[19] He did not regret his crackdowns on illegal immigration.[20] The Democrat who succeeded him said he would not continue some of Arpaio's most successful policies, including patrols for illegal immigrants, because the sheriff's office had been enjoined by court orders.[9]

In July 2017, Arpaio was convicted in federal court for misdemeanor contempt of court. On August 25, 2017, President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio, noting his over 50 years of "exemplary" public service and fighting illegal immigration in the White House statement of the pardon.[21][22][23][24][25]

Personal life

Arpaio and his wife Ava have been married for over 50 years and have two children and four grandchildren residing in the Phoenix area. Arpaio's mother was against abortion; she died giving birth to Joe.[26]


  • "Illegal immigration is a crime, not a negotiation."


  1. Welcome to the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office. Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017.
  2. OSIA Honors Sheriff Arpaio. (April 1, 2008). Retrieved on Sept 11, 2017.
  3. Arpaio, Joe (2008). Joining the Army. Re-Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Committee to Re-Elect Joe Arpaio. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved on December 18, 2008.
  4. Re-elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio 2012. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved on July 14, 2010.
  6. "Arizona sheriff Arpaio stumps for Kobach", Wichita Eagle and, July 14, 2010.
  7. "Trump pardons former Sheriff Arpaio", Aug 25, 2017. Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017. 
  8. Maricopa County Election Results.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio replacement Paul Penzone facing tough and odd choices. CBS News (from AP). November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  10. "Jails". Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017. 
  11. "Crews begin dismantling Joe Arpaio's controversial "Tent City" complex in Arizona", CBS News, May 24, 2017. Retrieved on May 26, 2017. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Claims vs. county cost taxpayers $71 mil (May 23, 2010). Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017.
  14. "Maricopa County supervisors settle lawsuits filed by ‘New Times’ founders, Stapley", Dec. 20, 2013. Retrieved on Sept. 11, 2017. 
  15. "Sheriff Joe Arpaio is no conservative and no hero, no matter what President Trump says", USA Today, Aug 27, 2017. Retrieved on Sept 11, 2017. 
  16. Bommersbach, Jana. Will Sheriff Joe Stop at Nothing? PHOENIX Magazine, February 2005.
  17. Dickerson, John (October 28, 2008). A Phony Murder Plot Against Joe Arpaio Winds Up Costing Taxpayers $1.1 Million. Phoenix New Times. Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017.
  18. Dougherty, John (June 24, 2004). In the Crosshairs. Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017.
  19. Guarino, Ben (November 9, 2016). Arizona’s Joe Arpaio ousted by voters, ending the 24-year run of ‘America’s toughest sheriff’. The Washington Post. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  20. Defeated Sheriff Arpaio Has No Regrets About Immigration Crackdowns. Fortune. November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  21. Spiering, Charlie (August 25, 2017). Donald Trump Pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Breitbart News. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  22. Sheriff Joe Arpaio wins pardon from Trump. Fox News. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  23. Trump Pardons Ex-Arizona Sheriff Arpaio. Voice of America. August 25, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  24. Trott, Bill (August 25, 2017). Trump pardons ex-Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Reuters. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  25. Boyer, Dave; Dinan, Stephen (August 25, 2017). Trump pardons Arpaio, citing his ‘exemplary service’ to the nation. The Washington Times. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  26. Twitter feed on abortion