Racial Profiling in Maricopa County Sheriff's Office:
Racial profiling is a practice that contributes to unfair treatment of individuals based on their origins and/or race. In the past few years, there have been accusations that the Sheriff's Office of Maricopa County engages in this practice. These allegations have particularly been leveled against Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is renowned for his tough position on illegal aliens, crime, and minimal prisoner benefits. As a result of his tough stance, Sheriff Joseph Arpaio is considered as the toughest Sheriff in the United States since he commonly referred to as such by the country's media. As an individual with a long standing history in the criminal justice, the Sheriff has achieved remarkable success that has attracted global media, governmental officials, and politicians. While this office continues to be accused of racial profiling, the reality of these allegations is yet to be fully determined. Actually, there are people who believe that Maricopa County Sheriff Office engages in racial profiling while others do not believe so.
The United States has in the recent past adopted a secretive nationwide surveillance system that is geared towards achieving the objectives of counter-terrorism initiatives. This system seeks to collect comprehensive information for total information awareness based on the concept of predictive policing (Murray, 2010, p.3). Through this process, the law enforcement agencies enhance their capability to anticipate crimes before they occur. However, the concept of predictive policing and total information awareness is associated with the probable return of racial profiling on the grounds of war on terror. Racial profiling is likely to return because of efforts by the Joint-Terrorism Task Forces and federal authorities to fight terrorism. The newly adopted surveillance system in the United States has particularly focused on prisoners, Muslims, and immigrants.
As previously mentioned, racial profiling can be defined as a practice in the criminal justice system that contributes to unfair treatment of people based on their origins and race. The United States criminal justice system became vulnerable to this practice during its war on drugs by the end of the 20th century. This was primarily because criminal justice throughout the country was mainly focused on race rather than crime. As a result, racism saturated decisions in law enforcement regarding who to target, arrest, and prosecute during the fight against drugs. Racism also played a crucial role in determining the kind of sentences criminals would during sentencing in courts.
However, the criminal justice system soon started to adopt measures for preventing racial profiling in law enforcement. These measures were adopted after several campaigns were mounted by the Congress and the public to stop disparity in sentencing for drug crimes. The Congress and the public also mounted campaigns against targeting people from certain races and origins in order to fight drug. While these practices yielded much fruit in preventing racial profiling, there are some law enforcement agencies such as the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office that are accused of continuing in the practice.
Racial Profiling in Maricopa County Sheriff's Office:
The Sheriff's Office in Maricopa County in Phoenix, Arizona has played a critical role in crime control policies and practices throughout the county. After the re-election of Sheriff Joseph Arpaio in 1992, his office adopted a range of controversial penal measures in the county jail (Maratea & Monahan, 2013, p.262). Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been nicknamed the toughest sheriff in the country because his office has constantly enacted proactive law enforcement strategies in the county and community.
Due to tough stance on crime, Joe Arpaio has become the personification of the modern harsh and never-ending culture of control. He has not only become the most famous elected official in Arizona but also gained an unusual national visibility for a county sheriff. The numerous claims and incidents of racial profiling have made the sheriff to receive significant attention from the criminal justice system, the media, supporters, and social critics. One of the most common practices that the sheriff is renowned for is housing prisoners in a facility where they stay in outdoor tents instead of the conventional jail cells. He has also installed a jailcam that enables Internet users to have a live view of the inmates' everyday life. Moreover, the sheriff requires prisoners to wear pink underwear, provides them with cheap meals, and limited their access to several comforts.
The sheriff's decision to house prisoners in the renowned "tent city" jail, promote chain gang labor, and forcing prisoners to carry out very public marches is a strategy geared towards humiliating inmates since it also features pink underwear and pink handcuffs (Carter, 2010, p.43). Actually, the county's sheriff department has been sued for conspiracy and racketeering through this humiliating policies and practices.
While Arpaio's tough stance on crime has helped to enhance the effectiveness of the county's law enforcement agency, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has largely been involved in racial profiling. The Office's involvement in this practice has been supported by numerous reports across major media outlets and several court rulings of the sheriff's involvement in racial profiling. Based on the findings of these reports and court rulings, it's evident that Maricopa County Sheriff's Office engages in racial profiling.
Evidence of Racial Profiling in Maricopa County Sheriff's Office:
As earlier discussed, there is overwhelming evidence of the involvement of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in racial profiling that targets Latinos. In a recent court ruling, the sheriff was found guilty of practicing racial profiling of Latinos by violating their constitutional rights in his efforts to fight illegal immigration (Fernandez, 2013). The ruling was termed by civil rights advocates as a strong message to law enforcement agencies and officials that are planning to adopt illegal practices in immigration enforcement.
One year after telling the Huffington Post that illegal immigration is not a serious crime in Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe Arpaio told Latinos to watch their steps or movements in the county, especially if they cannot prove their legitimacy. He stated that Latinos who fail to prove they are legitimate will be arrested and imprisoned in the "tent city" jail, a place the y certainly wouldn't want to go (Conde, 2010, p.1). As stated in the county's law enforcement laws, local police officers are allowed to demand proof of legal residency from any individual they have made any legal contact with and have reasonable suspicion that he/she is an illegal immigrant. The evidence of the office's involvement in racial profiling patterns and practices is visible through & #8230;
Lack of Clear Policy on Illegal Immigration:
In the recent court ruling where the sheriff's office was found guilty of involvement in racial profiling, Arpaio's deputies were found guilty of engaging in a model and system of discrimination against Latinos when conducting immigration sweeps and enforcing immigration laws. During this process, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office did not have a clear policy that needed implementation of the dispersion patrols and other enforcements that are race-neutral. As a result, the sheriff's office did not carry out any initiatives to determine the probable involvement of its officers in racially-biased enforcement. The other reason for the office's involvement in racial profiling is the failure to abide by standard police practices regarding record-keeping as conducted by other agencies involved in similar operations.
One of the major reasons that the lawsuit was filed against Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was the increased suspicion that Arpaio's agency intended to discriminate certain groups such as Latinos when conducting its immigration operations. The core of the trial was the alleged discrimination during crime suppression patrols and the ongoing practice of racial profiling of Latinos. During the sheriff's immigration sweeps and raids, Latinos caused uproar by reporting that they were increasingly targeted by law enforcement officers because of their skin color. Generally, Arpaio's agency had adopted controversial approaches towards immigration enforcement because of lack of a clear policy or legislation to govern this practice (Hensley, 2013).
Increased Targeting of Latinos in Maricopa County:
Apart from the lack of clear immigration policies and record-keeping practices in Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, the increased targeting of Latinos in the county by law enforcement officers is an evidence of the practice of racial profiling by this agency. In most cases, Arpaio's deputies used race as a major factor in law-enforcement decisions, imprisoned people for suspicion of violating immigration, and contacted federal authorities to arrest suspected illegal immigrants who have not committed any state crimes. According to the findings by judges in the trial, the great weight of evidence in every kind of crime suppression patrols conducted by the sheriff's office included race as a major factor ("Judge Rules," 2013).
The increased targeting of Latinos in Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is visible in recent claims that residents in the county should not violate any traffic rules, especially if they are Mexican or look Mexican (Conde, 2012, p.1). The statement clearly shows that Arpaio's agency is using race and origin as a major factor in dealing with traffic offenders. In this case, if Latinos are found guilty of violating traffic…
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