By Adolf der Schweinehund | The Unconventional Gazette | January 26, 2014
Life in Shackles: Digging Ditches and Collecting Trash With the Women Prisoners of the Only Female Chain Gang in the Country, an article in Saturday’s issue (updated Sunday) of the Daily Mail, included 30 photos of Maricopa County, Arizona women jail inmates who volunteered to work in chain gangs. The inmates wore horizontally striped white and black uniforms and they were shackled together, each at the left ankle, with nine-foot-long chains.
One photo showed them digging a grave in the desert for an unclaimed body. Another showed them clearing scrubland. If an inmate has to pee or poop, they remain chained together while she uses a Waste Management Port-O-Let.
The photos infuriated members of the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans (ASPCH). The human rights group has joined forces with Amnesty International and with Human Rights Watch to condemn Sheriff Arpaio’s use of women chain gangs as inhumane, and to bring him up on Crimes Against Humanity charges.
Marcia Morgenstein, executive director of ASPCH, held a news conference at their San Francisco headquarters in which she charged that even though the women inmates volunteered, the chain gangs clearly constituted cruel and unusual punishment. “The Heinrich Himmler of America should be jailed for intentionally violating the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said Morgenstein. “We are joining with Amnesty International and with Human Rights Watch to charge Arpaio with Crimes Against Humanity before the International Criminal Court.”
When asked if calling Arpaio the ‘Heinrich Himmler of America’ wasn’t a bit too strong, Morgenstein replied, “Hell no! Himmler ran Nazi Germany’s slave labor camps and that is exactly what Arpaio is doing here in the United States.”
The Gazette contacted Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International, at his office. Hawkins confirmed that his organization was joining ASPCH and Human Rights Watch in bringing Arpaio up before the International Criminal Court. “Our members are convinced that Sheriff Arpaio is committing Crimes Against Humanity in his treatment, not only of women jail inmates, but male inmates as well,” said Hawkins. “We will demand that the International Criminal Court issue an arrest warrant for this disgraceful Gestapo-like lawman.”
We were able to contact Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, in his New York offices. “We are pleased to join with our sister organizations, ASPCH and Amnesty International, in bringing Sheriff Arpaio up on charges before the International Criminal Court,” said Roth. “Not since J. Edgar Hoover has America seen a law enforcement administrator disregard and violate the rights of people to the extent Arpaio has. We are confident that after we present our case, the International Criminal Court will issue an arrest warrant for Mr. Arpaio.”
Brian Fallon, chief spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, told The Gazette that the Justice Department considers Sheriff Arpaio a rogue lawman who needs to be removed from office. “Mr. Holder does not believe the women chain gangs are unlawful, but he is looking into the possibility that the hard labor does constitute cruel and unusual punishment,” said Fallon. “If we can establish that is the case, Mr. Holder intends to bring the full weight of the Justice Department to bear down on Sheriff Arpaio.
We contacted the 80-year-old lawman at his Phoenix office. “It’s the only female chain gang in the world,” Sheriff Joe said proudly. “Started it with men and thought: ‘Why discriminate against women?’ And all those pictures in the Daily Mail, they were made at my invitation … that’s right, I invited the photographer to take them.”
When asked if he was worried about the human rights organizations planning to bring him up on Crimes Against Humanity charges, Arpaio replied, “Me worried? They’re just pissed off that I’m recognized as ‘America’s Toughest Lawman.’ I’ve got Hoder’s Justice Department all over my ass, I’ve been sued dozens of times for all kinds of alleged violations, so I’m supposed to worry about a bunch of liberal bleeding hearts trying to obtain an international arrest warrant on me. You’ve gotta be kidding. Hell, I’m not about to lose one damn minute of sleep over this.”