American Thinker had the honor of talking with a man who is a law enforcement legend in his own time: Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, the fourth most populous county in the nation.
The Sheriff is in the Christmas Spirit. In the week leading up to the holiday, he will be piping in "religious songs" for tent city jail inmates to enjoy.
Once self-proclaimed "Americas Toughest Sheriff," Arpaio now wants to be called the "Toughest Sheriff in the World." With 3,000 international media profiles done on the Maricopa County Sherriff, who can argue with that?
And, he has a kindness of sorts within in his toughness. This year's Christmas dinner in tent city will cost taxpayers only 3 cents per meal. Compare that to the usual cost of 35 cents per meal and you'll agree there's a little ho-ho-ho in this jolly old man.
Arpaio has been in his current job for 14 years. He says the recidivism rate for his prison facility, located in the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona, is about the national average, or, 60-70%.
Arpaio calls drugs the greatest driver of crime in the nation. With that, he has instituted a program called ALPHA. The drug program for inmates results in a recidivism rate among graduates in the area of only 13-15%. Arpaio also runs a high school/GED program and an English speaking program. "The inmates need to speak English; my guards don't need to speak Spanish. We're in America."
Criticism of his methods (pink underwear for prisoners, summer temps of 115 degrees in the tents, green baloney, etc.), has not softened Arpaio through the years.
"I just get tougher and tougher. I'm tough, but humane. After all the investigations, I'm still here."
With regard to the quality of the food, other prisons in the State and around the nation will average a dollar to a buck and a half per meal. But Arpaio says he doesn't do it to save money...he does cause "the prisoners deserve to be punished."
Voters keep Arpaio office, election after election.
"I work for the people, not a Governor, not a committee, not a bureaucracy. The day I do, is the day I quit."
For Arpaio, crime has no boundaries; no good neighborhoods and no bad neighborhoods. "Because drugs are the primary reason for crime, it can be found anywhere."
The Sheriff receives about 130 media requests per month.
"I just take care of business. I don't golf. I don't go fishing. I have no hobbies. I just work. People must find that I do a good job, that's why they want to talk to me."
In the news this month is a controversy between Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and Maricopa Count Attorney Andrew Thomas. Thomas has announced a no probation policy for repeat felony offenders; they would go straight to jail. Napolitano would prefer not to spend state money incarcerating the estimated 2600 new prisoners per year.
"Where do you draw the line? Isn't it our job to keep bad guys off the streets? I agree with Thomas' philosophy entirely."
In the Sheriff's waiting room, there are copies of Homeland Security Today, Success and a local Phoenix tourist magazine. It seems Arpaio has his focus. He also doesn't mind telling others who disagree with him to "shut your mouth. I'll do it my way."
And by the way, he will have his posse patrolling the malls during the heavy buying season again this year. No Grinch here in Phoenix.
J. James Estrada is a regular contributor to American Thinker.