“Smile: You’re Under Arrest: Arpaio Goes Hollywood

joe_aloneThe highly controversial sheriff from Maricopa, Arizona, Joe Arpaio may be facing serious charges of civil rights abuses and discrimination, but Hollywood considers him such a laugh that they are giving him his own reality show. He intends to use suspects as props for scenes written by comedy writers and staffed by actors. It is the latest sign of the decline of our criminal justice system as our judges, prosecutors, and sheriffs vie for notoriety on television and in the press.

In the last two decades, we have seen faux judges like Judge Judy become the dominant image of a perfect jurist — even being regularly interviewed on Larry King on her legal insights. Real judges have openly striven to become television judges, promoting themselves with dramatic court performances in high profile cases like Judge Larry Seidlin during the Anna Nicole Smith custody case.

Other judges have pandered to the popular press with humiliating forms of punishment from forcing people to clean their courtroom with a toothbrush to forcing teens to walk around with animals, here,

Abusive and notorious prosecutors like Nancy Grace were given their own shows despite a career marked by repeated violations and reprimands, here.

Within this trend, the horrific concept of Arpaio’s “Smile: You’re Under Arrest” make perfect sense. Arpaio has long distinguished himself by abusing inmates and pandering to the media. Recently, he boasted “I’m not going to brag, but there isn’t anybody in the world who doesn’t know who this sheriff is.”

The people of Arizona should be ashamed of empowering such a person, but Arpaio continues to operate freely despite an unprecedented number of lawsuits against him.
The show will feature on Fox and makes “When Animals Attack” look like a serious nature show.

The show is likely to raise some interesting legal questions over the privacy rights of suspects. Arpaio is using these suspects for his personal publicity and gain. They are literally being used as props in a money-making enterprise. There is no difference between Arpaio renting out these inmates to businesses. Like being handed over to a circus for people to gawk at, these inmates are being used for entertainment — and Arpaio insatiable desire for publicity.

Even if the shows can get the consent of the suspects, the Arizona legislature should show a modicum of integrity and ban this practice. The Supreme Court has acted to curtail such programs, reaffirming the liability of sheriffs who allow reality shows into the cruisers and barring such programs from arrest scenes. In 1999, Hanlon v. Berger and Wilson v. Layne, the Court ruled that televised raids on homes or ride alongs violated the constitutional rights of suspects.

This program will continue the merging of criminal law and entertainment — the American version of the Roman games. With each of these shows, there is a major corrosive impact on the quality and professionalism of our legal system.

For the full story, click here.

18 thoughts on ““Smile: You’re Under Arrest: Arpaio Goes Hollywood”

  1. I am commenting on momeeof4boys and Chris’ posts. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I can personally attest to “old” Joe’s treatment and blatant disregard for every ones basic human rights. I am an American citizen and while visiting my sister-in-law, I was stopped by a Maricopa County Sheriff Deputy, while coming out of a Seven Eleven. He wanted to see my “visa/green card”. You see I am half Native American/German and I could pass for Latino, Mexican, Spanish, or Hispanic because of my complexion and dark hair. I would have been arrested and detained at the county jail if I had not have had my driver’s license on me!

    I was harassed, embarrassed and very upset about the whole ordeal. I called the MCS department to complain about this particular officer and was basically told I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it was a good thing I had identification on me.

    WELL EXCUSE ME!!!! Racial profiling IS IN FACT going on throughout Maricopa County and its people like you who think its “okay” will continue to keep racism from ever being eradicated! Our country was built on the backs of immigrants!

    What’s the difference between illegals coming from Canada or other country buying land and purchasing homes and taking jobs and illegals from Mexico?

    As for criminals deserving to be in jail, yes, I agree. However, NOT every person who goes to jail is there for some heinous crime. First and foremost! Last I checked, our constitutional rights states a person is INNOCENT until PROVEN Guilty.

    Therefore, why should a person who has yet to go before a judge or jury be further punished by having to wear pink “used” underwear, eat food that’s not fit for a dog and be subjected to whatever whims Arpaio decides to mete out for the day, just because that person may not be able to pay their bail or bond out until their court date?

    Being sentenced to jail or prison time IS the punishment, further degradation, humiliation and subjugation is deplorable and is against every single persons basic human rights. Nowhere in anyone’s sentence or plea agreement does it state they must endure being watched while taking showers or going to the bathroom, guards on power-trips, deplorable living conditions (putting 4-6 people in a room made for two) and food infested with who knows what along with their specific amount of time incarcerated.

    Incarceration IS the punishment; it’s not FOR further punishment.

  2. Mike A.,

    “all I can do is shake my head and hope that whatever genes create that sort of ignorance will gradually be bred out of the species.”

    I know what you are getting at so from your mouth to the Prime Mover’s indifferent ear, but I’d like to point out that ignorance is a function of lack of education or mis-education. Stupidity, however, seems to be completely genetic. The problem is we’ve tried eugenics and it didn’t work out so well for the species. And the age of DNA? Well that will just allow us to screw up to a greater degree of precision if it follows the model of other scientific advances. So how about we start paying teachers six and seven figure incomes based on performance instead of bankers?

    Just a thought.

  3. Mespo, great illustration of the point!

    Bron, assimilation is a generational process. I grew up in New York, Ohio, Florida, California, Colorado, Wyoming, Alabama, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Texas. I encountered different ethnic groups on every stop along that road. What I discovered is that all immigrants gradually become “Americanized” in their own way and at their own pace. Many immigrants would not permit their children to speak their native tongues in their homes. Other immigrant parents encouraged their children to become bilingual (a healthier intellectual choice in my opinion). Many immigrants spent most of their lives in this country without ever learning more than a few English words. There have been immigrants who objected to their children marrying outside of their ethnic group or religion; others have voiced no objections whatsoever. Growing up I dated girls of distinctly Mexican, Irish, Polish and Italian heritage. I dated a couple of very Jewish girls and a couple of very WASPish ladies. The point is that all of the people who have come to this country from every other country in the world are individuals, not stereotypes. Many seize “American” culture, as they understand it, with great gusto. Many find American culture terrifying and attempt to shield their children from those things they find vulgar or otherwise distasteful. Many immigrant groups have prejudices against other immigrant groups, or even sub-groups within their own ethnicity. I have met Cuban-Americans who dislike Puerto Ricans and Mexican-Americans who dislike Cubans. Each new wave of immigration has been met with resentment and hostility. Hispanics are the objects of that resentment presently, because they comprise the newest and largest immigrant group. I could go on endlessly with examples of how that resentment is expressed, but I’m sure you’re already familiar with much of it. With respect to illegal immigration, we are a nation of hypocrites. We tacitly encourage it because it permits under the radar exploitation of cheap labor, but we then object to providing any basic human services to those we have induced to violate our laws. Enforcement consists of rounding people up like cattle rather than prosecuting employers. The bottom line is that this is a multi-cultural country and always has been. That’s one of its principal attractions after all. I guess there’s no logical stopping point, so I’ll just conclude by saying that whenever I encounter another Chris or a Joe Arpaio (what the hell kind of name is “Arpaio,” by the way?), all I can do is shake my head and hope that whatever genes create that sort of ignorance will gradually be bred out of the species.

  4. Mike and Mespo:

    isnt it a good thing for people to learn english? if they do it opens up many opportunities they would not have. Personally I am trying to learn Spanish to help me in my work (construction/engineering) so I can better talk to the laborers and craftsmen. But the guys that speak english and spanish are the foreman and superintendents and the ones that speak spanish are the worker bees making much less per week.

    It is really about opportunity in this country, so immigrants need to be able to communicate. I have friends whose grandparents came to this country and their parents were not allowed to speak the native lingua in the home and so the immigrants from the Ellis Island days have assimilated and moved into the American fabric, isnt that what we want for our hispanic friends?

  5. Mike Appleton:

    I edited Chris enlightened statements to make them even more ethnocentric and historically accurate.

    “I’m PROUD of Joe Arpaio in that he sees the threat to this country by illegal immigrants. Even the “legal” immigrants that speak English aren’t learning Yuman.* This Country is catering to them and making America bi-lingual. I have a bottle of ketchup from Fry’s that I bought last week, and everything on it is in Yuman and English. What happened to all the legal immigrants that migrated here and were PROUD to learn Yuman and become a Cocopa? The media is also killing this country by referring to “English Cocopans.” There is only one kind of Cocopan, and that is A COPOCAN! If you want to start referring to someone as “American-Cocopans”, then I expect you to be non-discriminatory by referring to each person what they are…Asian Copocan, German Copocan, Vietnam Copocan…? Joe Arpaio is from the “old school”, which we all know is the way it SHOULD BE! I’ll vote for him forever!!!”

    * Copoca are the indigenous native Americans who lived in Arizona. They spoke a dialect of the Yuman language, and are the only ones with real grievances from “illegal immigration.”

  6. Chris, I must say you lead a pretty sheltered life. I guess you’ve never heard of such traditional organizations as the Italian American Clubs, German American Clubs, Portuguese American Clubs, Swedish American Clubs,Serbian American Clubs and Polish American Clubs, just to name a few. Perhaps you’ve never heard of newspapers printed in the United States in German, Italian, Polish, French, Russian or Yiddish. Maybe you’ve never learned about churches in this country whose services are conducted in languages other than English. I guess you’ve never been to Chinatown in San Francisco or New York. You and Joe Arpaio both need to grow up. I agree that he is from the “old school,” and believe me, I do know what that means. Someone needs to tell old Joe that that school has long since been closed.

  7. I’m PROUD of Joe Arpaio in that he sees the threat to this country by illegal immigrants. Even the “legal” immigrants that speak Spanish aren’t learning English. This Country is catering to them and making America bi-lingual. I have a bottle of ketchup from Fry’s that I bought last week, and everything on it is in Spanish and English. What happened to all the legal immigrants that migrated here and were PROUD to learn English and become an American? The media is also killing this country by referring to “African Americans.” There is only one kind of American, and that is AN AMERICAN! If you want to start referring to someone as “African American”, then I expect you to be non-discriminatory by referring to each person what they are…Asian American, German American, Vietnam American, Columbia American, Portuguese American, Swedish American etc etc. Why do “African Americans” get referred to as such? Joe Arpaio is from the “old school”, which we all know is the way it SHOULD BE! I’ll vote for him forever!!!

  8. I feel so bad for you momeeof4boys. More so for the four boys actually. But at least they may have a chance, clearly you are way too far gone. You are an immigrant, unless you’re a Native American. Open youre mind a little, i promise you’ll love it. And youre right, criminals do deserve to be in jail, not on a reality show being humiliated for your enjoyment. There is a word for that, sadism. The way you are talking, I think you are the one who needs to be jailed.

  9. I am proud to live in Maricopa County and call Sheriff Joe our Sheriff! He is doing things that others are too scared to do. We have so many illegals here since we share a large border with Mexico. Crime is down and so is all the free shit these illegals get. They take our jobs and Arizona has one of the worst school systems (based on test results) … well that is because these non-English speaking illegals bring the test scores down.

    I am one who voted him in again … along with many others. Obviously many others feel he is a GREAT sheriff. Criminals deserve to be in jail, not in a bed and breakfast. They deserve no special meals, no tv, nothing! They are criminals and need to be punished!!

  10. Justice as Entertainment. You want to talk about an incentive to misappropriate justice? Take your average attorney’s ego and add the drive for ratings and a heaping side order of Hollywood jerkwads throwing gas on that flaming ego 24-7. You’ll see more mistrials and acquittals on appeal than a few. Some disbarments too. It is simultaneously a hugely bad idea and likely to result in some great entertainment by judicial and prosecutorial misadventure. That being said, transparency is an issue. Cameras (if used properly) are okay in the court and possibly a force for good. Hollywood in the court is one of the worst ideas in the history of ideas. This is most certainly a slippery slope. I’ve said so since they started airing “Jack-booted State Power Will Get YOU”, um, er, “COPS”.

  11. FFLEO,
    Your comment is a very good survey of the entertainment aspects of justice in America today. I agree with much of your conclusions.
    In the end the benefits of transparency outweigh the use of criminal justice as circus. The conundrum in this is how to obtain transparency (and justice), without opening the proceedings to the manipulations of those who would use it to advance their careers and fame. One solution is to somehow keep prosecutorial positions from being used as stepping stones towards higher office. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details and this would be hard to do. The most elegant solution would be the development and education of an informed public, who are aware of their constitution and legal system. This would seem to be a noble effort doomed to failure.

  12. Quote:

    “This program will continue the merging of criminal law and entertainment — the American version of the Roman games. With each of these shows, there is a major corrosive impact on the quality and professionalism of our legal system”

    _____________________________________________________________________

    Thought provocation:

    In some ways, isn’t Roman Coliseum sport what we do within this blawg? We are simply employing a lower means of available media; a written blawg broadcast via the Internet versus radio or televised broadcasts. I do realize that we are not commenting in any official capacity as the ‘justice televangelists’ do; however, public opinion has an often profound effect on cases, whether pro or con.
    If Judge Judy (whom I would not watch) ‘blawgged’ (blogged) about her show in verbatim script, would her antics be less objectionable? Does televising the involved subjects in a case cheapen the experience more than that of just hearing the case on radio or reading about it online or within hardcopy newsprint without the additional visual cues?

    Within this blawg, we express our views while filling the roles of defendants, arresting officers, jailers, jurors, prosecutors, defenders, and judges in written form while the other commenters add aural and visual enhancements. Are we less ‘guilty’ as Roman game “spectators” than they are simply because we cannot see and/or hear what viewers or listeners experience?

    What if this Turley Blawg suddenly became televised—like the Tonight Show—with JT as host and the guests were we who post here? Would we then acquire additional Roman spectator-like qualities and become open to more ridicule than when we were hiding behind pseudonyms in the full glory of namelessness?

    Unfortunately, most humans appear flawed with the psychological need to “play to” the microphone in Limbaughesque rants or “act out” before the camera ala Clark/Ito style, both of which denigrate the complete process of seeking the facts and justice in any case. However, is writing about a case based on court-allowed sketches–in lieu of cameras–any less egregious, especially when most of us write anonymously? We are “acting out” our opinions; just that we are not acting before a camera while worrying about our narcissistic appearances.

    The important ‘preaching to the choir here’ aspect is that all of the facts of each case must receive unadulterated presentation regardless of the media from which those facts issue.
    Is it better to hold trials behind closed-door sequestration or holding them out in the open with transparency? I prefer transparency if the presiding judges ensure less of the media circus such as occurred in the first Simpson case. In all civil and criminal cases, violations of established societal laws occur and the public has the right to seek justice for those violations by conducting civil, fair, decisive, and respectful inquiries while ensuring the constitutional protections of all defendants, regardless of their revilement and hated by the public.

    Overall, and using whatever media to portray justice in action, I think openness and transparency of all cases are necessary when societal crimes occur. That is the most effective manner for the citizenry to understand and respect the laws of any society. However, our right to opinions and knowledge of any case must never trump any citizens’ guaranteed rights under the U.S. Constitution and other established laws.

    Disclaimer: I do not like nor do I watch any of the people Professor Turley writes about in his article. Perhaps if we humans ever reach a majority of critical thinker status in this society–extremely doubtful– then the Judge Judy’s, Nancy Grace’s, and Sheriff Arpaio’s of the world will be discounted and rejected as simply the publicity seeking entertainers that they embody. Those 3 persons and their ilk must be held accountable for violating any persons’ rights and their recorded media antics are prima facie evidence available in potential libel and other lawsuits.

    Therefore, let the justice system televangelisms occur, but prosecute any violations perpetrated by the host celebrities. The MSM’s legal pockets are just so deep and the televised justice medium will most likely become self-limiting if violations incur financial and legal liabilities.

  13. Like most TV personalities we’ll find a glittering persona masking a empty vessel. This guy is a self-aggrandizer’s self-aggrandizer. Shameless, brutal, devoid of humanity, and suspicious of anything limiting his authority, he makes a fine right-wing law and order host. I hope the TV camera shows him for what most thinking people in Arizona–like our own rcampbell–already know him to be. Bring on the clown!

  14. Patty C.
    You need to stop your personal attacks. They are ugly and unprofessional. I seldom read your posts, not because I am passive-agressive, but because they are full of hate filled attacks. It is not reasonable to believe anyone, especially the recipient, wants to read such things.

    This is a wonderful blog. JT’s entries are well thought out, imaginative and hilarious. Except for the trolls, most everyone here is a lot of fun and I have learned much from what they have to say. There is no reason to poison such a wonderful atmosphere with hate.

    Here are my ground rules for engagement with you. I will not discuss anything personal about you or about me. I will gladly discuss ideas, and when we disagree I expect that disagreement to be handled in a respectful manner, with no personal attacks. Otherwise, I will simply go back to skipping your posts as before.

  15. Arpaio may be a local figure, but he is a national embarrassment. The constitution means nothing to him as he continues in his sociopathic crusade to use law enforcement in the greater service of this sheriff’s ego. My sympathies to you rcampbell for being within this man’s jurisdiction. His lionizing spot on 60 Minutes fueled his nationwide celebrity, by appealing to the worst in all of us. His continuing in office is a paean to the “bully theory” of law enforcement and we all suffer from it’s effects.

  16. I live in Mesa, AZ the second largest city in Maricopa County. I’ve long thought Sheriff Arpaio an embarrassment. I was surprised to find some of my more conservative friends speaking quite vocally against him during this past election cycle. He still won re-election, but his massive ego and arrogance, Gestapo tactics with suspected illegals (literally stopping dark skinned people on the street demanding their “papers”) and his attitude of not working and playing well with others–particularly other local municipalities’ police departments–is wearing quite thin.

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