US President Donald Trump [official website] on Friday pardoned former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio [JURIST archive]. In a brief announcement [NPR report] issued Friday night, the White House said that Arpaio’s military service and law enforcement tenure warranted the pardon.
Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service. After serving in the Army, Arpaio became a police officer in Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas, NV and later served as a Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), formerly the Bureau of Narcotics. After 25 years of admirable service, Arpaio went on to lead the DEA’s branch in Arizona.
In 1992, the problems facing his community pulled Arpaio out of retirement to return to law enforcement. He ran and won a campaign to become Sheriff of Maricopa County. Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.
The US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] had found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt [JURIST report] late last month after finding that he had violated an earlier court order “by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed.”
The criminal conviction for contempt that was addressed by Friday’s pardon stems from a 2012 lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice [JURIST report] alleging that Arpaio and his department engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory and unlawful law enforcement actions against Latinos through frequent stops, detentions and arrests “on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and Latino prisoners with limited English language skills are denied important constitutional protections.” Friday’s pardon is the first in Trump’s short tenure as president.