Lunatic Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio Issues New Order Forcing Inmates to Listen to Christmas Carols

His unconventional tactics are often unusually cruel and sometimes outright racist.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, run by the controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, released a “news brief” this week announcing that it will be forcing the system’s 8,000 inmates to listen to “Christmas music” during the holiday season, even though Arpaio has faced six lawsuits over the issue in the past two years. From the statement (written in Christmas-themed red and green fonts):

Arpaio's Christmas Order

Arpaio claims that “[h]oliday music from all countries and faiths” will be represented in the play list, but he repeatedly refers to “Christmas music,” which of course excludes many faiths. According to ABC News, Arpaio said that “for agnostics,” he would “mix in the singing Chipmunks” — who also presumably sing Christmas carols. “We can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ in the U.S., in the world anymore,” said Arpaio, fully joining in the War on Christmas. “What are we coming to? I am saying it. I am singing it. It’s gonna be in this jail, and that’s the way the ball bounces.”

In previous grievances, inmates have called Arpaio’s stunt “cruel and unusual punishment” and said that it is forcing them to “participate in religious celebrations.” As the Phoenix New Times points out, “The practice of forcing people to listen to crappy music all day long has been used in the past for interrogation purposes. For example, the U.S. military blared Metallica music at detainees in Guantanamo Bay with the intention of breaking them down psychologically.”

Arpaio is not a benevolent sheriff trying to cheer up inmates during the holiday season. His unconventional tactics are often unusually cruel and sometimes outright racist. His deputies are on the lookout for people “who look like they just came from Mexico” (based on how they look and talk), and he has said that “illegals” are “all dirty” and should be “checked” like “fruits and vegetables.”

Recently Arpaio’s tactics gained attention again when a woman spoke out and said she was detained in Arpaio’s jail while nine months pregnant. She eventually had to give birth while shackled to a bed and then “was not allowed to hold her baby and was told that if no one came to pick up the child within 72 hours, the baby would be turned over to state custody.”

Amanda Terkel is Deputy Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Deputy Editor for The Progress Report and at the Center for American Progress.
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