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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sociopath alert: Joe Arpaio

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff," and he may actually be that. He's famous for having set up "Tent City," an extension of the Maricopa jail system, which he described as a concentration camp. It is an outdoor facility where Arpaio himself once measured the temperature at 145 degrees. (Most of the inmates at Tent City have not been convicted of any crime, but are merely awaiting trial.)

Arpaio is also known for limiting meals to two a day, and for serving inmates surplus food, sometimes consisting of moldy bread and rotten fruit.

In 1995, he re-instituted chain gangs, and in 1996 started female volunteer chain gangs.

Arpaio's sociopathic aura stems not so much from the fact that he thinks that prisons are too lenient; many agree with him on that. (Prisons can be hell, but that is usually mostly a function of the other prisoners.) It is more the gleeful vindictiveness with which he institutes these reforms, his self-righteousness, the way he publicizes them, and the way he expects the public to love him for his actions.

Arpaio even forced prisoners to wear pink underwear. According to Wikipedia:

Arpaio subsequently started to sell customized pink boxers (with the Maricopa County Sheriff's logo and "Go Joe") as a fund-raiser for Sheriff's Posse Association. Despite allegations of misuse of funds received from these sales, Arpaio declined to provide an accounting for the money.

(Sociopaths working in law enforcement never seem to feel that laws apply to them.)

Arpaio has claimed to average 200 television appearances a month. (Sociopaths can never get enough airtime.)

While immigration laws should be enforced -- I personally believe in deportation -- illegal immigrants are not evil. They're mostly just ordinary people looking for a better life. Arpaio treats them with ill-disguised contempt, as if they're child molesters or worse.

Meanwhile, for some strange reason, Arpaio and his office have ignored real child molesters. According to Wiki:

During a three-year period ending in 2007, more than 400 sex-crimes reported to Arpaio's office were inadequately investigated, or not investigated at all. While providing police services for El Mirage, Arizona, the [Maricopa County Sheriff's Office] under Arpaio failed to follow-through on at least 32 reported child molestations, even though the suspects were known in all but six cases. Many of the victims were children of illegal immigrants.

Violent crime in general has soared under Arpaio's watch. But Arpaio seems to prefer concentrating on highly publicized illegal immigrant sweeps.

This type of selective law enforcement, especially when it involves ignoring more serious crimes in order to aggressively pursue a lesser but more politicized crime, smacks of the sort of posturing which often characterizes sociopaths.

Arpaio also carried on a long feud with the Maricopa Board of Supervisors and various judges:

Over the two years prior to September 2010, feuding between Arpaio and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas on one side, and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on the other side cost at least $5.6 million, most of which was paid to private attorneys. Arpaio and Thomas filed several lawsuits against the Board of Supervisors, including a federal civil-racketeering suit against the supervisors, four judges and attorneys who work with the county. Arpaio and Thomas lost every case, either by ruling of the courts, or by dropping the case.

In early 2010, Arpaio and Thomas sought to have a grand jury indict a number of Maricopa County Judges, Maricopa County Supervisors, and employees of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The grand jury, in an unusual rebuke, ordered the investigation ended. This action has been described as meaning that "...the case is so bad, there's no further evidence that could be brought [to substantiate it]"...

Arpaio was sued in turn by most of the people he filed lawsuits against. Being on both sides of numerous lawsuits is another sociopathic specialty.

Arpaio has also been cited for election law violations, misuse of funds, and even a staged assassination plot:

In 1999, undercover MCSO deputies arrested James Saville, then 18 years old, and charged him with plotting to kill Arpaio with a pipe bomb. A local television station had been tipped off to the arrest by the MCSO, and broadcast footage of the arrest that evening. The MCSO held a news conference shortly after the arrest, and Arpaio appeared in interviews on local television stations, saying "If they think they are going to scare me away with bombs and everything else, it's not going to bother me."

After spending four years in jail awaiting trial, Saville was acquitted by a Maricopa County Superior Court jury, which found that Arpaio's detectives had helped buy the bomb parts themselves and had entrapped Saville as part of a publicity stunt. Saville filed suit against Arpaio and Maricopa County for wrongful arrest. In 2008, the suit was settled, with Maricopa County paying Saville $1.6 million.

Showing bravado in the face of a falsely claimed victimhood is a dead giveaway for sociopathy. Sociopaths are forever trying to set up situations in which they appear the victim in an effort to evoke sympathy and admiration.

Arpaio is a dishonest, vindictive, cruel, egotistical bully. For his many abuses of power he really deserves some time in his own Tent City.

Yet the most interesting thing about Arpaio is something he can't be blamed for, but which holds the key to his character. It can be found in the "Early Life" section of his Wiki bio: his mother died while giving birth to him.

Arpaio grew up never knowing a mother's love. This explains his personality perfectly.


Pavonine99 said...

I saw this fellow on a documentary about the prison system years ago. His demeanior was so disturbing that it has stuck with me ever since.

"Arpaio grew up never knowing a mother's love. This explains his personality perfectly."

I'm not sure about this.
While lack of a maternal bond can exacerbate sociopathy, there has to be some kind of brain damage involved as well. Plenty of sociopaths come from stable backgrounds.Likewise, plenty of people from unstable backgrounds do not become sociopathic, even if they lacked something as necessary as a mother figure.

John Craig said...

Pavonine --
I think the complete lack of a mother and a weak bond with a father (which I'm not absolutely sure about, in his case) is enough to facilitate sociopathy. There are just too many sociopaths who come from orphanages to think otherwise. (Witness all those Romanian orphans who come to this country and then are too much for their adoptive parents to handle).

The sociopaths who come from outwardly stable backgrounds often are lacking a strong bond as well. Plenty of people go through th emotions of being a responsible parents without really loving their children. There seem to be an awful lot of sociopaths whose mothers, while middle or even upper class, were alcoholic and thus effectively loved their "fix" more than their children.

bluffcreek1967 said...

All I can say is 'Sham-Wow'! Seriously, I didn't know the Sheriff had such a tangled web of dishonesty and poor investigations under his belt. There were a couple of instances surrounding the man that seemed a little over-the-top, but I wrote those off as folks 'out to get him.' I'm not so sure about that now.

I knew he was a controversial figure - and I admit I liked his no-nonsense approach in dealing with inmates - but it appears he brought a lot of this upon himself due his abrasive demeanor and arrogance.

Honestly, it's amazing the man has lasted this long, but the people of Maricopa County seem to love him. How much longer he will continue as Sheriff is anyone's guess because the man is already in his 80s (if I'm correct)?

John Craig said...

Ambrose --
Yes, he's 81. Actually, his popularity has steadily declined, with the winning margins in his elections gong down each time. (I think he's gone from something like 62% of the vote to 50%.)

I had the same reaction as you when I first heard of him: about time someone started cracking down on the criminals. But the more I heard about him, the worse he sounded. And there was always that nasty, vindictive edge. He's just another bad guy posing as a hero.

Pavonine99 said...

You may be right, but it's hard to tell because you never hear about the orphans who adjust well to their adoptive parents because they don't cause any trouble that would get them in the news.

Are you familiar with James Fallon? He discusses the nature/nurture issue as it relates to psychopathy (a little narrower than sociopathy as you define it, but still relating to a profound lack of empathy).
Incidentally, he references your Clinton article in his book and seems to agree with your points.

John Craig said...

Pavonine --
I'm not saying it's not possible to come out of an orphanage a non sociopath (especially if one was given up by one's mother after the age of one), but the high incidence of them would certainly point to an environmental explanation.

I am familiar with James Fallon, he's been getting a lot of publicity recently for his admission that he has the brain structure of a psychopath (which makes him a sort of organic sociopath). But I hadn't known that he referenced my Clinton post in his book, that's gratifying, thank you for telling me that.

Glen Filthie said...

Well John some of that may be so, but some of it is BS as well.

Illegals ARE a problem, a HUGE problem. There are stretches of lonely highways with signs up warning about the hazards of illegals. Those illegals include druggies, gangsters and a lot of human scum too.

Second - violent crime rates have dived. When compared against Pima county, Joe's rates are as much as 1/3 to 1/6 of those next door. Recidivism is virtually nonexistent. Let's have a little honesty here:

I think some tall forehead or other once said that "it's better that 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be hanged".

I would reply that if one looked at the body count for innocent civilians - that is just flat out wrong.

Just my two bits but I like Joe. Wish we had more like him, to be honest.

John Craig said...

Glen --
I don't think that comparing Maricopa's crime rates to Pima's crime rates proves anything. First, it's apples to oranges in terms of the populace, second, you have to keep in mind that the major cities within Maricopa -- Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tempe -- have their own police forces, so Arpaio doesn't have jurisdiction over them.

According to this article, violent crime in the area where Arpaio enforces the law has risen 58%:

Yes, the Huffpost is a liberal publication, but I don't think they're lying about crime having gone up under Arpaio (while it's decreased elsewhere), and I've heard that elsewhere as well.

I'm for enforcing the laws against illegal immigration, as I said in the post, but this post was not about that, it was about the character of Joe Arpaio, who's unquestionably a sociopath.

Quartermain said...

The MSM built up Joe as a no nonsense law man and Jack Kervorkian as a man standing up for death with dignity.

I wonder how much of the MSM are sociopaths.

John Craig said...

Allan --
I don't think that most of the "street level" reporters in the MSM are sociopaths, I think they're mostly just dumb and gullible. If they're gullible enough to fall for the liberal myths most of them fall for, they're certainly dumb enough to be fooled by sociopaths like Arpaio and Kevorkian.

Glen Filthie said...

I have problems with journalistic integrity in general and the Huff n' Blow in particular, John. That rag sheet has an agenda and as you note, they are very liberal with their 'facts'. I would need to see police figures.

Joe is very, very dangerous to a lot of very powerful people John, and they are not above smearing him in the media if they think some of that muck they fling will stick. Joe has been charged and accused and exonerated too. Given the liberal scum in the media and the liberal scum in the judiciary...I wonder if Joe eats kittens and kills puppies.

I wonder if Joe isn't just another regular man who is sick to death of the criminals and the idiots that coddle and enable them? We have seen the media and judiciary gang up on men they don't like in order to crucify them (the case of Zimmerman and St. Trayvon Of Skittles comes to mind).

I shall be taking your assessment of this man with some very large grains of salt. Justice and objectivity are no longer within the skill sets of either our judiciary or our media outlets, I am afraid to say.

John Craig said...

Glen --
While I agree with you about the media and some of the judiciary, just because someone's a conservative doesn't mean he's not a sociopath. As I recall you had the same reaction when I said Newt Gingrich was a sociopath too.

Even filtering out the media bias, what Arpaio himself has said is enough to make it obvious he's a nasty guy. I'm interested in sociopathy as well as politics, and the two don't always fit neatly together. Yes, there are more con men on the left, but sociopaths come in every race, both sexes, and all political persuasions. I'm not going to refrain from calling Arpaio what he is just because I happen to think immigration laws need to be more strictly enforced.

Alter Ego said...

Thought you might like this compilation of tweets from a Phoenix newspaper:

John Craig said...

Alter Ego --
Thank you, that was enlightening, some of those instances I hadn't heard of. I don't think Arpaio can be held personally responsible for every last abuse that took place at his jails, but he obviously set the tone there. And so many of his actions just exuded sociopathy that his syndrome is an inescapable conclusion.