Controversial Arizona sheriff starts 'Mugshot of the Day' contest
Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, says the photos could drum up leads for investigations.
April 20th, 2011
12:38 PM ET

Controversial Arizona sheriff starts 'Mugshot of the Day' contest

The Arizona law enforcement official known as "America's toughest sheriff" has come up with a new way to demonstrate his authority.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has begun posting online mug shots of people who are arrested, asking people to vote for the photo they find most amusing. He says that putting the mug shots online and inviting a mass audience to view them is a way to drum up leads for investigations. "I want people to turn to see if their neighbor's been arrested," he said.

Some people have said it's unfair, arguing that not everyone arrested is guilty and that putting the images online in that forum, to exist forever in cyberspace, could result in unfair discrimination for innocent people pictured for years to come.

Arpaio is not the first to come up with the concept of posting mug shots online. and newspaper Web sites have been doing it for years, and the public is responding with clicks.

Arpaio is used to a great amount of attention. He's famous for his tough treatment of those convicted in his Arizona jurisdiction. He has fed inmates green bologna and made them wear pink underwear. His unconventional approach to law enforcement has drummed up many headlines over the years.

Last week, an investigation into alleged misconduct by Arpaio's subordinates ended with a 1,022-page report delivered to the sheriff. The investigation was led by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, and a letter to him from Arpaio said privacy limits prevent disclosure of the report until those named can appeal its findings.

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Filed under: Arizona • Joe Arpaio
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Tae

    I love this guy! I think what he is doing is great. I'm quite sure that those who have problems with the way he handles things are probably the same ones who have done time before. Boo hoo to you all. If those of you complaining have not done time before, then YOU are the "mentally sick" ones for wanting sick, demented crazies running around committing crimes.

    Keep up the good work, Joe!

    April 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nate

    Any guy this abusive of his authority can not be trusted. Ever seen the movie Shawshank Redemption? I guarantee there is stuff like that happening with this guy. It has recently come out that he has massively misappropriated jail operating funds for self promotional activities. That sheriff is dirtier by far than the criminals he seeks to prosecute. He is building himself up on the heads of all the people he can step on because of his position. He is dirty lout.

    April 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Nate you can either call Buckshot Cheney or call the FBI...both of these fellas believe in good eatin'...the sheriff could be the entree

      April 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sharon

    so.........if the report about the sheriff leads to a mugshot and his folks........................then they will be online for everyone to see.......................but then again he likes the attention.......will his folks?

    April 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    "The Shawshank Redemption" is a work of fiction, based on a story by Stephen King. You know, the one who wrote "The Shining" and "Cell"? Ya think these events are true-to-life, also? Kind of a bad analogy, but I got your point, anyway.

    April 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. greenbird321

    first of all: Arpaio is a good guy, despite the 'boos' from the ignorant fearmongers.

    secondly: to person who posted all of the Futurama comments–you made my day ^.^

    April 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy

    My question: after the Mug Shot-o-the Day gets selected, does the most amusing mug shot win a get-out-of-jail-free card?

    April 20, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dim Mak

    @Tae: please address my name because my phone doesn't have the same page format as a computer. No I'm most certainly not scared of being arrested, because I am a good person whom abides by the laws, even if some laws are kind of dumb. I have first hand experience with witnessing a former #2 to the sheriff here drinking much alcohol and then getting into his car (with a state issued sheriff license plate on it). He now does real estate but still has his connections. What if some guy gets falsely accused of harming children and his face gets plastered everywhere? Do you support his right to sue? I only ask equal justice is applied to everyone. Instead of this country taking proactive approaches to eliminate the causes for many crimes (drugs+broken homes) they give a megalomaniac sheriff bandits to tease and humiliate on the world stage. I'm sorry you're so blind.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. raven

    Green bologna??as in rotten ? ugh .

    April 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. NoArpaio

    Considering that many of the people arrested are mentally ill, this guy is a sick-o holding them out to ridicule.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tae

    @Dim Mak: I, too, am a good, law-abiding person. I, too, agree that some laws are dumb. However, just because we think they are dumb doesn't mean that we don't follow them. I hear what you're saying about "knowing someone who knows the sheriff". As for the sheriff doing illegal things, I think he should be punished for them – if he is truly doing these illegal things. I disagree with anyone committing crimes and not suffering the consequences.

    Now, on to your question about the innocent's right to sue. Yes, I think that those who are innocent have a right to some form of compensation. A public apology would be a start but I do believe that those innocent should receive much more than just a simple apology.

    While you disagree, I still think that it is okay that the sheriff is using some of these tactics. Yes, I think the pink undergarments are funny. I also think that mugshots are okay to post online. As I, and other people also, have stated, news sites are constantly posting the pictures of those arrested in their counties – some do it weekly. Along with the pictures, they post the crime. Sheriff Joe is doing nothing more than what other news sites are doing and have been doing for years...and that is not illegal.

    I think you choice of words in your last post were well thought out but I do believe that your earlier posts were written while you were not thinking. If you disagree, then please, by all means, justify what you wrote about "law enforcement loving broken homes just so they will have people to chase". I am not blind to any point you are trying to make. I can clearly see that this country is becoming more and more violent every day. I know that I do not want my children near these "bad guys". I know that I don't want my children, my family, my friends, or myself falling victim to any criminals and I do think that if more sheriffs took a "tougher, more humiliating" (yes, I said it) stance then there would not be as much crime as there is. Think about it. Who wants to go to a place where they would be publicly humiliated? As far as I am concerned, there are criminals who are humiliating, torturing, killing, and scarring people daily and for that, I don't care how humiliated they are. I have more important things to think concern myself with (like my 2 children) rather than the humiliation of criminals.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Exposo

    This could all be over so quickly if some Arizonan simnply put a well placed round through this animal's head.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy

    Green bologna. Yes, rotten. I don't see the humiliation factor here, (which I agree with, BTW) I only see someone getting seriously sick and Maricopa County facing a lawsuit because of it.

    @Tae: excellent last post, and I agree. No one wants to embarassed and humiliated, and if that's what it takes to stop crime in his county, then the Sheriff is doing things right. If it's for entertainment, well, that's something else again...

    April 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tae

    @banasy: Agreed. Embarrassment? Yes. Humiliation: Go for it. Entertainment: Not at all.

    Everyone else (including you Dim Mak), here is an idea. I read not too long ago about a county where anyone arrested would be charged a living fee. I think that should be in effect everywhere. Many people, believe it or not, want to go to be locked up. Free health care, free food, free bed, free education, free television, free living in general. What's not to love? (Heavy sarcasm there.) Even if the individual is only locked up for an hour, they still have to pay a fee when they get out. I think it's a bold move. I think it's a FABULOUS idea! Maybe Sheriff Joe should try that one too. 🙂

    April 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ole Lady

    I wonder if green eggs went with the green bologna. Ewwww. However this is questionable behavior by him. Along with the pink undies.

    April 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ole Lady

    I guess he's trying to scare them straight with his dictatorial ways.

    April 20, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
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