Justice Dept Report Finds Sheriff Joe Arpaio Violates Civil Rights
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has released its investigative report on Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa Sheriff's Deaprtment. It finds serious civil rights violations. The full report is here.
The report finds "a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations." The Department is seeking a written agreement from the Department and implementation of federal oversight. If it refuses, it will file a civil suit to force compliance. [More...]
The report investigated allegations under:
- the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994,
- 42 U.S.C. § 14141 ("Section 14141"), and
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d to 2000d-7 and its implementing regulations.
Section 14141 prohibits law enforcement agencies, such as MCSO, from engaging in activities that amount to a pattern or practice of violating the Constitution or laws of the United States. Title VI and its implementing regulations provide that recipients of federal financial assistance, such as MCSO, may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
These laws give the United States the authority to file legal action and obtain the necessary relief to ensure compliance with the Constitution and laws of the United States.
First violation: Racial profiling and unconstitutional policing
Based upon our extensive investigation, we find reasonable cause to believe that MCSO engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing. Specifically, we find that MCSO, through the actions of its deputies, supervisory staff, and command staff, engages in racial profiling of Latinos; unlawfully stops, detains, and arrests Latinos; and unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about or criticize MCSO's policies or practices...
Next, the jail discriminates against Latinos:
We also find reasonable cause to believe that MCSO operates its jails in a manner that discriminates against its limited English proficient ("LEP") Latino inmates. Specifically, we find that MCSO, through the actions of its deputies, detention officers, supervisory staff, and command staff, routinely punishes Latino LEP inmates for failing to understand commands given in English and denies them critical services provided to the other inmates.
The report also finds:
- a number of troubling incidents involving MCSO deputies using excessive force against Latinos.
- The Department has created a "wall of distrust" between MCSO officers and Maricopa County's Latino residents-a wall of distrust that has significantly compromised MCSO's ability to provide police protection to Maricopa County's Latino residents"
- Latino drivers are four to nine times more likely to be stopped than similarly situated non-Latino drivers.
- One-fifth of the reports, almost all of which involved Latino drivers, contained information indicating that the stops were conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable seizures.
As to Sheriff Joe, here's a sample of its findings:
Sheriff Arpaio's own actions have helped nurture MCSO's culture of bias. For example, Sheriff Arpaio has frequently distributed racially charged constituent letters, annotating the letters with handwritten notes that appear to endorse the content of the letter, circulating the letters to others on the command staff, and/or saving the letters in his personal file. Many of these letters contain no meaningful descriptions of criminal activity-just crude, ethnically derogatory language about Latinos.
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