Jul 02 2008

On Joe “Tent City” Arpaio

Category: UncategorizedMarcus @ 1:54 am

I was going to post this elsewhere, but a kickboxing forum with a no politics rule might not be the best place for a bit of research which completely destroys the policies of the odious Joe Arpaio with his pink underwear fetish and belief that gimmicks such as chain gangs are an effective way to reduce crime. Having done this research it seems a bit of a waste just to drop it, so. . .

It’s interesting to see how much difference Arpaio’s ideas have made, which is essentially none at all. The crime rate in Arizona is higher than average (http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/azcrime.htm) and the Phoenix metropolitan area (which covers part of Maricopa County) is more dangerous than Los Angeles (http://phoenix.about.com/od/crime/a/dangerous.htm).

A study in 1998 commissioned by Arpaio found that his techniques had no effect on the recidivism (reoffending) rate (Griffin, M. The Use of Force by Detention Officers, pp. 42 – 44, http://preview.tinyurl.com/6atrz8 for the actual text). Page 44 of the study says “In general the policies put in place by Sheriff Arpaio tended not to evoke the kind of strong, negative reaction necessary to raise the level of deterrence beyond that which comes as a result of incarceration”. About 24% of inmates in Arizona state prisons go on to commit a new felony and are sent back to prison within 3 years of release. A study in 2005 by the Arizona dept of corrections (http://www.azcorrections.gov/adc/reports/recidivism_2005.asp) found that the most effective ways of reducing recidivism included education, training and drug rehab programmes. It’s difficult to get any stats at all on Maricopa County’s jails (which includes Tent City) because there are none available on their website. This seems rather odd as I’d expect Arpaio to be broadcasting his achievements to all and sundry if they actually resulted in a reduction of crime.

Historical crime stats from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office show no major statistical changes in the overall crime rate between 1998 – 2006 although the general trend is upwards (http://www.maricopacountyattorney.org/crime_stats/). The prison population in Maricopa is rising sharply and in 2006 the governor of Arizona requested the county provide extra funding to pay for all these new prison places (http://www.azcorrections.gov/News/2006/120706_maricopa_county_should_pay.html)

In other words, crime in Arizona is very high, particularly in Phoenix, and all the “get tough” stuff doesn’t actually work very well in reducing the rates or stopping people from reoffending. Even the famous “vacancies” sign outside Tent City had to be replaced because the original one was destroyed in a prison riot. It seems Arpaio’s main objective is the reelection of Arpaio rather than anything to do with reducing crime, even though he said he was only going to stand for one term.

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