Arizona Sheriff Arpaio's Office Commits Worst Racial Profiling in U.S. History, Expert Concludes in DOJ Investigation

AZ-SheriffJoeArpaioMaricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office didn't just commit racial profiling of Latinos, according to the findings of the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation. Rather, Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency in U.S. history, a DOJ expert concluded.

Arpaio and his commanders created a "culture" of abusing the rights of Latinos in the county, assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Perez told reporters in a news conference today.

The findings were a vindication of allegations by critics and profiling victims, despite the lack of punitive measures taken against Arpaio for knowingly creating this "culture of bias."

Some of damning findings in a report put out by the department today (you can find the entire document below) include:

* A study commissioned by the Justice Department found that "Latino drivers are four-to-nine times more likely to be stopped than similarly situated non-Latino drivers."

* A fifth of all the immigration-sweep traffic stops violated Fourth Amendment protections
against unreasonable search and seizures.

* Arpaio's anti-immigration squads responded repeatedly with enforcement patrols to
complaints about people with "dark skin" or Spanish speakers.

* Jail guards punish Spanish-speaking inmates for failing to understand their commands in English, sometimes putting them in solitary confinement for that reason.

* Jail guards refuse to accept grievance forms and "tank orders," which allow inmates to request basic daily services, that are written in Spanish.

* Guards pressure Latino inmates to sign voluntary deportation forms. (The allegation
helped lead to today's announcement by Homeland Security that the 287(g) cross-training program will be taken out of the jails.)

* Arpaio's office retaliates against its critics by subjecting them to "retaliatory detentions and arrests without cause, unfounded civil lawsuits, and other baseless complaints."

After the Justice  Department informed Arpaio about its civil rights probe in March, 2009, the Sheriff's Office refused to cooperate. It took a lawsuit and court order to get Arpaio to budge.


Hundreds of people were interviewed in the investigation, thousands of documents were reviewed, and the county's jails were inspected. Investigators discovered a "widespread pattern or practice of law enforcement and jail activities that discriminate against Latinos," according to the investigation report.

The "typical characteristic" of the sheriff's Human Smuggling Unit is one of prejudicial harassment "rather than the effective enforcement of immigration law," the report says.

Witness accounts of racial profiling were found to be consistent with accusations against deputies. Two examples are given:

* A legal U.S. resident who allegedly failed to use his turn signal was made to sit on a curb for 15 minutes, then arrested and jailed for 13 days on a bogus charge that was dismissed in court.

* A legal U.S. resident and his U.S. citizen son invited deputies into their home during a raid on a suspect drop house next door. The deputies proceeded to search the home without consent or a warrant, handcuffed the man and his son, then had them sit on the sidewalk next to the people being busted from the neighboring house. They were detained for an hour before being released without any citation.

The Justice Department says it gathered "many" similar examples. That's no surprise to close observers of the Sheriff's Office. We reported back in 2009, for instance, how one deputy enjoyed busting illegal immigrants for seat-belt violations that weren't really violations.

The way Arpaio and his deputies responded to bigoted complaints was another sign that racial discrimination was rampant in the office, the report says, noting one time when Arpaio told his enforcement chief to check out a tip that employees at a Sun City McDonald's
restaurant were speaking Spanish and another time when Arpaio thanked a racist letter-writer for his concern about illegal immigrants in Mesa. The report adds that Arpaio forwarded the letter to Deputy Chief Brian Sands, who "later testified that he assumed its author correlated undocumented persons with 'dark-complected' people."

An immigration sweep in Mesa soon ensued.

The latter examples show clearly that Arpaio personally oversees and directs some of the discriminatory behavior.

Arpaio has a news conference scheduled for 4 p.m. today on the Justice Department's findings.

Link to original article from Phoenix New Times Blogs

Read the complete coverage:

Can Arpaio's "Culture of Bias" Be Fixed? DOJ Plan Involves Training and New Policies

Paul Babeau Doesn't Trust DOJ Report on
Joe Arpaio's Racial Profiling Practices; Says Timing Is to Distract
From "Fast and Furious"


Click here to read the DOJ's report on its findings.

See our past coverage of the DOJ investigation of Arpaio.


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States - Arizona

Office of Rep. Raul Grijalva

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Applaud Occupy Wall Street Movement

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Applaud Occupy Wall Street Movement

Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison today released the following statement in solidarity with the demonstrators on Wall Street and around the country: “We have been inspired by the growing grassroots movements on Wall Street and across the country. We share the anger and frustration of so many Americans who have seen the enormous toll that an unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans while benefitting the super wealthy. We join...

Adam Sarvana and Jennifer Gore 05 Oct 2011 Hits:137 Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-07)

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Congressional Progressive Caucus 19 Sep 2011 Hits:128 Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-07)

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Arizona Articles

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