President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff who was convicted in a federal court for federal contempt and disobeying a court order to end patrols targeting Hispanics without charge and convicting them. Arpaio, now 85, was set to be sentenced on Oct. 5.
Speculation that Arpaio would be pardoned grew when Trump hinted at it during a rally in Phoenix. The White House released a statement on Friday in regards to the pardon. “Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the statement read. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”
Arpaio thanked the president on Twitter.
Thank you @realdonaldtrump for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!
— Sheriff Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) August 26, 2017
Arpaio’s pardon is problematic for many reasons. First, he was convicted of violating the Constitution for racial profiling. He blatantly and without remorse disobeyed a court order that ordered him to stop patrols targeting immigrants.
“Not only did (Arpaio) abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise,” wrote U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in finding Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt.
Arpaio’s practices violated the Fourth Amendment and constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizures.
Arpaio also has a long history of mistreating immigrants, specifically the Latino community in Maricopa County, Ariz., and calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff.”
He first rose to prominence in the 1990s when he encouraged the construction of Tent City, an open air jail where prisoners were forced to wear pink underwear and pink handcuffs as a form of punishment. He reinstated the use of chain-gangs for both men, women and even juveniles (chain gangs bind together a group of convicts while they are working). Additionally, he cut down prison meals to only two meals a day, and forbid the use of salt and pepper in prison meals in order to “save” money.
This sheriff has treated prisoners as subhuman, during a time when many activists, academics and politicians are calling for criminal justice and prison reform. His policies of traffic stops and detention of Latinos have terrorized the Latino community and the individuals who were detained.
Many individuals have voiced their concerns over Trump’s pardon. “No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold,” Arizona Sen. John McCain said, “The president has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”