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article imageArizona inmates put on bread and water for desecrating flag

By Karen Graham     Jan 24, 2014 in Crime
Bread and water punishment has been around since the French Revolution, in the 1820s, and was used for "troublemakers." Even then, the length of time a man was confined to this diet lasted no more than three days.
The bread and water punishment, a form of "non-judicial" punishment, is in the headlines all across the U.S. today, bringing increased notoriety to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio, a controversial figure in the national debate on immigration, has put 38 inmates in his jail system on a diet of bread and water for seven days. Arpaio said on Friday the accused inmates had desecrated American flags hanging in each cell. The sheriff said the prisoners will receive the meal twice a day for destroying government property.
A second offense will get a 10-day stretch of the diet. A spokesman for the sheriff's office said the bread and water diet provides all the daily nutritional requirements and calories that are necessary.
"These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells. Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel. It's a disgrace ... this is government property that they are destroying, and we will take action against those who act this way," said Arpaio.
The sheriff implemented what he calls the "Jailhouse Initiative" in November, 2013. In part, the initiative was in hiring more veterans. His office employs between 600 and 800 men and women veterans to manage 8,000 inmates in the county prison system. An additional push, this time for patriotism included playing the "Star-Spangled Banner" every morning and "God Bless America" every night over the intercom system.
The hard-nosed, six-term sheriff has earned many supporters for his attention-grabbing punishments and strict policies. This is the man who issued pink underwear to prisoners in his jail, and told the press he was saving the taxpayers money by cutting salt and pepper from the prisoners diet.
But Arpaio had also earned the criticism of many people, particularly for his officers allegedly using racial and ethnic "profiling," which goes along with his hard-line stance on immigration. It was learned this month the profiling is going to cost Maricopa County taxpayers about $22 million. In May, 2013, a court ruled the sheriff's office routinely profiled Latinos while conducting traffic and immigration patrols.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled the sheriff's office has a history of "targeting vehicles with occupants of Latino heritage," taking extra time to scrutinize them more strictly, and frequently detaining them without just cause. Arpaio is appealing the court's decision.
Arizona has a controversial immigration law on the books that has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, that allows police in the state to ask a persons immigration status when they are stopped by the officer.
More about Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona, American flag, Controversial, Maricopa county
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