Feds: Sheriff Joe Violated Civil Rights

Arpaio conducted 'egregious' racial profiling: Justice Department
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 15, 2011 2:11 PM CST
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio during a news conference Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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(Newser) – Tough times ahead for America's Toughest Sheriff: The Justice Department has accused Joe Arpaio of major civil rights violations. Arpaio's office committed what a top Justice official called the most egregious racial profiling he'd ever come across, the AP reports. Arpaio also conducted immigration "sweeps" prompted by reports of Latinos simply gathering without committing crimes, according to the department's report. Now, Arpaio will have to establish anti-discrimination policies under a judge's supervision—or face a federal lawsuit.

In Arpaio's Maricopa County, Latinos were four to nine times more likely to face traffic stops than non-Latinos; some 20% of Arpaio's immigrant-smuggling squad's traffic reports involved stopping mostly Latino drivers without legitimate suspicion. Legal immigrants were often held without cause. In prison, Spanish speakers were punished with solitary confinement for not understanding English commands, and detention officers wouldn't accept forms seeking services or reporting abuse if they weren't written in English. Police emails revealed derogatory comments against Latinos, the report added. Separately, Arpaio has come under fire for his handling of sex cases.

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