Sheriff Joe Arpaio punishes ‘unpatriotic’ inmates with bread and water diet

"Ten inmates are currently on bread and water for this infraction," says Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
By Evan Bleier   |   Nov. 12, 2013 at 11:54 AM   |   Comments

(UPI) -- Arizona's most famous sheriff has started punishing inmates who deface or vandalize the American flag by feeding them bread and water.

During his sixth term, 81-year-old Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has placed U.S. flag stickers in cells housing 8,500 inmates around the county and decreed that anyone who vandalizes the flag will be punished with the restricted diet.

"Ten inmates are currently on bread and water for this infraction," Arpaio said in a news release.

Arpaio has also ordered the playing of God Bless America and the National Anthem on a daily basis and made it a requirement for inmates to sing along.

The Fourth Avenue Jail, Durango Jail, Estrella Jail, Lower Buckeye Jail, Tent City Jail, Central Intake and Towers Jail are all covered by the patriotic campaign.

When asked if the new policy was a publicity stunt, Arpaio said, "Well if it is, everything I do is a publicity stunt."

No, it is not and yet in a way it is. I don't run a CIA secret organization the public should know that I put flags on," he added.

The American Civil Liberties Union is investigating the situation. "We're looking into the constitutionality of whether prisoners can be punished for defiling the flags (which would be considered public property)," the ACLU said in a statement.

This isn't the first time Arpaio has targeted inmate diets. Earlier this year he announced a plan to begin charging inmates $1 per meal, and in September announced that all jails would go vegetarian.

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