The policies of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have resulted, among other things, in racist profiling against Hispanic people and the death of Marcia Powell, a 48-year-old sex worker who died from heat exposure after being put in a cage for four hours in the sun. Always eager for the spotlight, Arpaio is famously proud of an outdoor tent city specifically constructed to house inmates in extreme heat. He’s also notorious for making prisoners wear pink underwear (The Influence recently covered a dystopian summer camp that Arpaio hatched to give kids the full “Tent City” experience).
The latest atrocity in Arpaio’s arsenal is ostensibly a celebration of America’s Independence Day. The more than 8,000 prisoners in the Maricopa County jails will be wearing uniforms adorned with the good-old Stars and Stripes. An official statement from the Sheriff’s office said: “Sheriff Arpaio ordered the new look out of respect for our nation’s heritage and with the aspiration of adding the respect each wearer will hold for themselves.”
Arpaio himself said, “The American flag is a symbol of freedom and liberty … My hope is that incarcerated inmates feel a sense of pride and honor when wearing the flag.” According to local media, the sheriff’s department is unwilling to disclose the price of Arpaio’s weird prison fashion show.