Arizona sheriff faces federal allegations of discrimination
The U.S. Justice Department found Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio discriminated against Latinos.
December 15th, 2011
12:36 PM ET

Arizona sheriff faces federal allegations of discrimination

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, under the leadership of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has engaged in systemic discrimination against Latinos with practices that violate federal law and the Constitution, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

A comprehensive investigation found that the practices include "unlawful stops, detentions and arrests of Latinos," according to a Justice Department statement.

It also noted that the sheriff's office has discriminated against "Latino inmates with limited English by punishing them and denying critical services."

It further blames office for allowing "specialized units to engage in unconstitutional practices" and for a lack of oversight and deputy training.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said the office's "systematic disregard for basic constitutional protections has created a wall of distrust between the sheriff's office and large segments of the community."

"The problems are deeply rooted in (Maricopa County Sheriff Office) culture, and are compounded by MCSO's penchant for retaliation against individuals who speak out," added Perez.

The initial inquiry began in June 2008 and reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents and more than 400 interviews, including current and former inmates, as well as office personnel.

Authorities notified the sheriff's office of a formal investigation a year later, the release said.

Arpaio, whom the media has dubbed "America's toughest sheriff," is considered a hard-liner on illegal immigration in a state known for its tough 2010 law on the issue.

He's also a well-known and controversial personality, running for his sixth term as sheriff.

Thursday's statement coincides with recent calls for Arpaio's resignation following allegations that his office failed to "adequately investigate allegations of sexual assaults," according to the release.

Arpaio's office was not immediately available for comment.

He apparently defended himself in a news conference last week, pledging to investigate the alleged cases, according to media reports.

Filed under: Ethnicity • How we live • Latino in America
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. HarshReality

    Sheriff Joe For President!

    December 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ohnoes

    illegal immigrants can't vote. And those and their supporters are who are truly against these actions. Personally I'm a legal immigrant, I paid my dues, did the things the system says I needed to do, and have obeyed the laws of the country so graciously allowing me to live and work here. The country I came from isn't the hell that Mexico generally is, but if these people were the hard working, civic minded and industrious community angels that Latino-centric organizations claim, why would they not stay and improve the lands of their ancestors? Instead they break the law as they enter, break the law when they claim SSN, break the law by working around taxes, and finally when caught, they use the system they so obviously disdain to drain resources from law enforcement that would be so much better served protecting citizens.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Starrman69

    If the people do not like the job that he is doing as Sheriff, then vote him out of office.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • HarshReality

      And somehow he earns enough votes (a majority!!) to retain control. Seems the people feel he's doing a good job. Who are we to say otherwise?? I'd vote for him if I lived there, we need more like him that aren't afraid of sucking up to the PC crowd and do the right thing.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Starrman69

        And somehow that rationale seems to escape the media and the complainers. The voters of Maricopa County keep him in office, obviously because they like the job that he is and has been doing.

        December 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |