The latest publicity stunt of the man known as America's Worst Sheriff (he prefers "America's toughest sheriff") is to parade an all-female chain gang at the MLB All-Star game in Phoenix.
Joe Arpaio, the elected sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is famous for his obsessive pursuit of undocumented immigrants and press attention. On July 12, he'll be bringing the chain gang — the only female one in the country, made up of DUI offenders — to a venue where protesters against Arizona's bigoted immigration law are also expected. "If [protesters] can be there, why can't my female chain gang be there as a public service," Arpaio told the Phoenix New Times. (Arpaio's legal skirmishes with that paper's executives includes having them arrested) And by public service, he clearly means more attention for himself.
Arpaio's abuses are legendary and legion. Among many others: Pregnant women in his custody have been forced to give birth while shackled, given inadequate food (though a court ordered him to stop serving inmates rotten food), and force-marched in shackles while still bleeding from c-section wounds.
So are his publicity stunts. He starred in Fox's Smile...You're Under Arrest!; more recently, he authorized Steven Seagal to execute raids in an armored car against an unarmed man, for a reality show.
Not that any of this has yielded impressive results. A 2008 report by the Goldwater Institute found, according to The New York Times that "what has risen on Sheriff Arpaio's watch: violent crimes (up 69 percent overall from 2004 to 2007, with homicides up 166 percent in those three years), 911 response times, unserved arrest warrants, racist sweeps of Latino neighborhoods, and dollars paid out in budget overruns, overtime and lawsuit settlements." And that was before the two federal investigations against him.
By the way, the female prisoners will be wearing striped uniforms, with a twist: pink T-shirts with messages about DUI, according to New Times. Arpaio is also famous for making male inmates wear pink underwear, which he now markets and sells at Pinkunderwear.com.