Arizona Sheriff Puts Inmates On Bread And Water Diet For Flag Desecration

Submitted by Darren Smith: Weekend Contributor

BreadMaricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now placing inmates suspected of desecration of flags posted inside county jails on a bread and water meal plan for two of the meals each day. Sheriff Arpaio states:

“These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells. Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel,” Arpaio said in a statement. “It’s a disgrace to those who have fought for our country.”

Is this a fitting punishment for 21st Century American Corrections?

The punishment will last for seven days, he said, and a second offense would bring 10 more days of the sparse diet.

A sheriff’s spokesman said the bread provides the daily requirement of calories and nutrients that is necessary.

Are the flags posted in these jails there for ordinary posting of flags or an effort to set up inmates for additional punishment.

The county jail uses as cause jail and local statutes prohibiting the destruction of government property. Violating such rules in every jail or prison environment is an accepted part of operation and life when applied to the ordinary meaning of the word. But is the actions by the Maricopa county sheriff’s office going to far?

Few jails or prisons would place flags or anything else into jail cells or common areas that inmates would damage or use for nefarious purposes, especially items that have been shown to be routinely damaged and serve no real purpose to the operation of the institution or that are required by law. A flag in jail cells does not serve any purpose to security or safety.

While not condoning the actions of these inmates one has to wonder if these flags are just a setup to punish the inmates. Or, is it simply just an action with a lofty goal to instill civic responsibility and patriotism in the inmate population.

Aside from the obvious, the punishment of bread and water has been a form of degradation and inhumanity in human culture for centuries. The sanctions typically assessed by corrections officers include criminal charges for violations of law, isolation cells for safety threats or risks, loss of Television privileges, loss of commissary such as snacks and, special details. The latter few involve taking away of rewards. Under humane jail conditions inmates should not be punished by restraint, violence, depravation of food, warmth, bedding, or clothing, and protection from assault. Punishment should not be equated with safety, security, or protection.
Unfortunately Arizona statutory law does not specify directly what constitutes proper food for inmates. Arizona Revised Statute 31-11 reads in pertinent part:

“31-121. Duty of sheriff to receive and provide for prisoners; contracts for furnishing food; city or town prisoners; employment; canteens; special services fund; insurance; education programs

A. The sheriff shall receive all persons who are committed to jail by competent authority and provide them with necessary food, clothing and bedding, the cost of which shall be a county charge or, if a county jail district has been established, a charge of the district, except as otherwise provided by law.”

Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Arizona, called the move by Sheriff Arpaio a “publicity stunt.” And, that it “It’s just another vindictive policy that has nothing to do with running a good jail system.”

From a jail management point of view, at least, providing substandard and poor meals to inmates is counterproductive as it has led to unrest and worse in some cases violence against the staff. So why would such a measure be implemented on this basis alone?

It surely seems this type of punishment, and degradation would not be favored at all by the Supreme Court especially in light of Texas v. Johnson, much less the lack of providing nutrition to inmates who as human beings cannot live by bread alone.

Perhaps some basic nutrition requirements of inmates should be addressed by the legislature if human decency is not to be found in certain jail settings.


Arizona Revised Statutes
Texas v. Johnson
by Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility

40 thoughts on “Arizona Sheriff Puts Inmates On Bread And Water Diet For Flag Desecration”

  1. Since I live in Phoenix, I am well acquainted with this sleazeball. I must say that there have been numerous attempts to get rid of Joe including the attempt at recall and all have failed. We have two problems in Phoenix; Sun City (Joe’s home) on the west valley (home to more millionaires per capita than Beverly Hills) and Sun Lakes on the east side of the valley, also a retirement community. These fossils think Joe walks on water and it is THOSE people that keep the fool in office, forcing the rest of us to pay his legal bills. Cattullus, you are are correct. The vast majority of people in the Maricopa County jail system are there because they cannot afford bail/bond and are awaiting trial, and so have been convicted of nothing.

  2. Showing crimminals the same respect that they showed their victims sounds good to me, and should help reduce crime . Instead of a gym how about a chain gang, make them own their keep while in the slammer. If convicted of Murder beyond a doubt, hang them the next day

  3. Part of it I see…. As destruction of government property…. But the flag case has already been decided by the Johnson case……free speech…. It’s just a matter of time before settlement is reached….

  4. The wealthy always put megalomaniacs in charge of keeping the natives from getting restless. Why would he put a flag in prison cells in the first place? Did he not think that they would use them for other reason instead of saying the pledge of allegiance to them?

    Leaders like Arpaio are either psychopaths or sociopaths, like so many government, religious and big business leaders throughout the world are today.

    Believing that an institution, government, that utilizes for it’s economic foundation money derives by the theft of taxation, extortion and coercion, will foster an ethical society, is like believing politicians once elected, manifest themselves into angels. If they are willing to lie to get elected what do you think they are going to do after then get elected?

    “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

  5. A fair number of Arpaio’s inmates would be justified in blaming the USA and its component states for their predicament and some of them would see desecrating the US or Arizona flags as a moral duty. I think Arpaio knows this and that is his reason for the flags.

  6. Sheriff Joe knew exactly what he was doing when he put those flags in cells. I am not sure what other bloggers here are familiar with an inmate population, but Darren and I are. That was bait to get them to do what they did, so he would once again demonstrate what a sadistic troll he really is. He knew exactly what he was doing and what inmate reactions would be when he put those flags inside cells.

    One of the things taught in college courses on corrections is that keeping inmates as well fed as the budget will allow is a safety issue for correctional officers as well as other inmates. Hungry or ill-fed inmates can become dangerous as their frustration level increases.

  7. Maybe an inmate suggested to the Sheriff that he was being “obtuse” so now he’s taking it out on the whole lot?

  8. Why are we putting flags in jail cells?
    As a veteran myself, I see a treasonous government who puts cameras in cable boxes and practices all manor of deceipt including false flag terrorism like 911,Sandy Hoax,Boston, and LAX to name a few.
    I hang my flag upside down as a sign our country is in deep peril. Flag desecration is the symptom not the cause of a nation in decline.

  9. sayingthetruthperiod–FYI; the majority of inmates in the Maricopa County Jail are awaiting trial and those who have been convicted are there for relatively minor offenses.
    rafflaw had it right; Arpaio wants to look tough and he never misses a chance at self-promotion.

  10. I sure hope Joe Arpaio is on the 2016 GOP Presidential slate. Right next to “sayingthetruthperiod”.

  11. bread and water was arpaio’s second choice. he wanted to keelhaul them but since maricopa county is in the middle of a desert, keels were rather scarce.

    arpaio needs to be reminded that he runs a jail not a penitentiary. some are there awaiting trial and have not been convicted of anything.

  12. Sheriff Arpaio has an unfortunate tendency to assume the prerogatives of the legislative branch. Even worse in my view is that he is sadistic. As Darren suggests, the flags are placed as lures in the happy anticipation that the lord sheriff will then be able to exact whatever perverse penalty he finds best suits his fancy at the time. He operates within the hallowed tradition of generations of Jim Crow sheriffs in the South.

  13. 1. arpaio shouldnt even be sheriff anymore especially since the doj has been investigating him since bush was in office.
    2. the flags are put in the cells as punishment for the illegal immigrants to harass them
    3. arpaio is full of chyt and the whole world knows it. he himself has proclaimed himself above the law and has been known to throw judges in jail for not accepting or allowing the [patently false charges arpaio has tried to enforce not only against illegal immigrants but legal immigrants and anyone with color in their skin….

    want to know more go read the Phoenix sun times. theres a whole section dedicated to arpaio and his mso cops and their crimes for which they are never punished…. at one point it go so bad all the lawyers in arizona staged a protest against him……

    ENOUGH SAID!!!!!!!

  14. When the inmates ran out of toilet paper did they use the Sears Roebuck Catalogue or one of these flags? That is the first question.

  15. There is a famous jail on the east coast, now a museum, where a group, Quakers perhaps, thought they were doing both society and the inmates a favor by having them reflect on their sins at every opportunity. This sounds similar & is equally wrongheaded. One thing that has worked in the USA & abroad, especially Latin America, is that little booklet called The Way To Happiness, a non-religious moral code that anyone can agree with & gradually apply. It has to be done on a voluntary basis of course, but if a small group of five inmates got an hour a day to work on this project, word would get around and others would join. If it did not implement easily it would simply mean that the jailers needed it first or concurrently. This occured with the whole country of Colombia recently & is one good reason the Colombian drug war is much less in the news today.

  16. I think the flag thing is basically irrelevant, since it could be a picture of Obama or whatever, and the crime would still be the same. Since the charge is destroying county property, Johnson would not apply. Then one has to wonder what a fitting punishment is required. For example, an inmate destroys his mattress because it does not suit him. So what should be done? Just toss in another mattress and keep them coming until he gets his Tempurpedic? People can live adequately on bread so that is not too bad a punishment either. Also a good number of those inmates are NOT US citizens, and this would be a good way to forestall any ruling in favor of them before the administrative immigration judge.

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