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Articles by Michael Lacey

Prisoners Hang Themselves in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Jails at a Rate that Dwarfs Other County Lockups

by Michael Lacey, Phoenix New Times

How many people have died in our sheriff’s jails? On May 4, 2015, I asked a spokesman for Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for a cadaver count.

It was not an idle question.

Since he was elected sheriff in 1993, county taxpayers have shelled out more than $140 million to litigate – and ultimately settle – claims of brutality by the sheriff’s deputies. Lawsuits charge that the sheriff has cultivated a “culture of cruelty” motivated by Arpaio’s incessant trumpeting that he is America’s toughest lawman.

But even if you could kill and maim the indigent and the lawless for free, do we really want a medieval penal system?

So it is a simple, if morbid, question: How many body bags?

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has refused to answer. His spokesman, Lieutenant Brandon James, said doing the math would take a few weeks.

It’s been six months.

Searching other databases (the Office of the County Medical Examiner’s and the Office of Risk Management’s, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s) revealed that close to 160 people have died in Arpaio’s jails.

But that is an estimate, because the truth is that no outside ...

Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution - Sheriff Arpaio's assault on the First Amendment

Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution

Joe Arpaio, Andy Thomas and Dennis Wilenchik hit New Times with grand jury subpoenas

By Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin

Published: October 18, 2007

This newspaper and its editorial staff -- both current and former -- are the targets of unprecedented grand jury subpoenas dated August 24.

The authorities are also using the grand jury subpoenas in an attempt to research the identity, purchasing habits, and browsing proclivities of our online readership.

It is, we fear, the authorities' belief that what you are about to read here is against the law to publish. But there are moments when civil disobedience is merely the last option. We pray that our judgment is free of arrogance.

These are the issues as we understand them.

In a breathtaking abuse of the United States Constitution, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and their increasingly unhinged cat's paw, special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, used the grand jury to subpoena "all documents related to articles and other content published by Phoenix New Times newspaper in print and on the Phoenix New Times website, regarding Sheriff Joe Arpaio from January 1, 2004 to the present."

Every note, tape, and record from every ...


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