In the summer of 2017, Joe Arpaio, formerly the Maricopa County Sheriff, was convicted of criminal contempt. The conviction followed the sheriff’s refusal to follow the order of a federal judge and would have seen him behind bars for up to six months.
At least, that’s what should have happened. Only a few weeks prior to his sentencing, Donald Trump issued a presidential pardon, freeing Arpaio from justice. Judge Bolton formally validated the pardon in October of 2017.
A Look at Why Arpaio Was Convicted
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are what one might call experts on Arpaio’s scandals. They have relentlessly covered his many wrongdoings, and if anyone can tell you exactly how he became so infamous, it’s them. Lacey goes on to speak about the many sins of the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America.”
Lacey gives a grim description of Arpaio’s jails, brutal holding cells, where it’s not uncommon for inmates to be killed by overzealous guards, or simply by taking their own lives. Not to mention Arpaio’s infamous tent city, a “correctional facility” that Arpaio himself described as a concentration camp for inmates, where temperatures could reach well in excess of 100 degrees, and the unfortunate prisoners held there were afforded no reprieve from the blistering heat.
Arpaio also boasts a long record of other scandals, including the illegal diversion of jail funding as well as a lack of proper investigation, which led to more than a hundred sex-crimes going unsolved.
Arpaio also seems to have a strong vendetta against Latinos, regularly rounding them up with his anti-immigration squads via racial-profiling. This blatant profiling eventually led to the Melendres v. Arpaio lawsuit in 2007 and, subsequently, Arpaio’s criminal conviction.
Arpaio Takes Action to Silence the Press
Larkin and Lacey were a constant thorn in Arpaio’s side. Their constant coverage of the former sheriff’s wrongdoings caused great inconvenience for him.
In fact, the coverage had become such a nuisance that the pair’s publication was banned outright from Arpaio’s press conferences, and his offices simply ignored their requests for records. He even went so far as to threaten the publication’s reporters with arrest, although, he eventually chose to follow through on that threat.
The 18th of October, 2007. That’s the date of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey’s unlawful arrest by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Their homes were raided in the dead of night, and the two journalists had been hauled to Arpaio’s infamous jails in unmarked cars bearing Mexican plates. Read more: Jim Larkin | Angel.co and Michael Lacey | Twitter
However, the public wouldn’t take this lying down, and with insuperable fury, they waged a war of words on Arpaio, leading to the release of Larkin and Lacey within 24 hours.
Larkin and Lacey filed suit, and, after several years of legal battling, they settled for $3.75 million, which they used to create the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund.
The Frontera Fund is dedicated to aiding migrant-rights organizations throughout Arizona. The two journalists have also launched their own online publication in order to fight against threats to free speech and the constitution.