Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County sheriff in Arizona, has decided to charge a dollar for food of inmates in prisons.
“Everybody else has to pay for food, why should they [inmates] get freebies,” said Arpaio.
The Maricopa County jail system is believed to be the third largest in the nation, and soon it may be the first to begin charging inmates for their meals.
Beginning in March, inmates will have to pay a dollar a day to cover their meal costs.
The sheriff’s department says the rising cost of food and the decline in donations are the reasons for the change
Arpaio confirmed to ABC15 that beginning in March, he is planning to charge each inmate $1 per day for the cost of their meals.
Currently the jail roughly holds 8,300 inmates in the county jails and tents who receive two meals a day. As for collecting the money, Arpaio says it will start the minute a suspect is booked. Payment will also come from the inmate’s account.
“You have to be a little innovative these days with budget problems and rising costs,” Arpaio told ABC15.
Arpaio said the meal charges are due to the high food prices. The money will be collected through accounts of relatives or friends, who may deposit the money instead.
“We’re going to make sure we use that money before they [inmates] go to the canteen to buy some chocolate bars,” Arpaio explained.
The Sheriff said meals used to cost $.60 a day per inmate, but the cost of food has risen since the jail is now purchasing more food with donations down.
“The food banks are hurting, they’re not getting donations and we are not getting the donations we used to,” said Arpaio. “A dollar a day isn’t that much, I mean that’s what it costs to feed the inmates now.”
“They’re coming to jail and they have money in their pocket, that’s going to be the first priority,” said Arpaio.
Anyone who can’t pay will still be fed, but they’re still on the hook for the cost.
t’s unclear at this point how much money the $1 fee will generate because Arpaio says it depends how many can pay the fee and how many inmates are housed on a daily basis in the jails.
Arpaio was elected sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. First voted into office in 1992, Arpaio is responsible for law enforcement in Maricopa County. Since 2005, he has taken an outspoken stance against illegal immigration, and has become a flashpoint for controversy surrounding Arizona’s SB1070 anti-illegal immigration act. Arpaio is also known for his investigation of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and his claim that it is forged.
Arpaio was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on June 14, 1932, to Italian parents both from Lacedonia, Italy. He served in the Army from 1950 to 1954 in the Medical Detachment Division and was stationed in France for part of the time as a military policeman.
Arpaio’s practices include serving inmates surplus food and limiting meals to twice daily. He has also banned inmates from possessing “sexually explicit material” including Playboy magazine after female officers complained that inmates openly masturbated while viewing them or harassed the officers by comparing their anatomy to that of the nude models in the publications. The ban was challenged on First Amendment grounds but upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.