Arpaio’s pardon does not excuse behavior
President Donald Trump’s pardon of ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio differs drastically from presidential pardons in the past by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and James Cartwright in that the leader of the free world used a pardon to supersede the ruling of the judiciary.
There wasn’t just a social implication of forgiveness in this pardon — Trump was asserting his definition of justice for a nation.
Despite Trump’s announcement, courts are bringing up legal challenges to Arpaio’s would-be pardon. He will still be sentenced on Oct. 5 based on a series of criminal convictions of racial profiling.
Arpaio is reputable in the law enforcement world for being “America’s toughest sheriff” because of his racially discriminatory practices, such as detaining Latinos without charging them. The case Melendres V Arpaio was filed in 2007 under Judge G. Murray Snow and revisited in 2011 and again in 2013, when an injunction was placed on his record for arrests and targeting solely under suspicion of being here illegally.
Trump regarded the Arizona sheriff’s obsession with securing our nation’s borders with admiration, applauding him for being a “great American patriot.”
As usual, our president has polarized the masses with his tendency to hold bigots in such high esteem. Arpaio has been known to dehumanize the Latino inmates in his prisons by referring to them with derogatory slurs, abusing solitary confinement, reviving chain gangs, refusing to replace soiled clothes and sheets and locking down cells where inmates do not understand English.
Is this the model that our president believes federal prisons should look to for inspiration? A model created by a man who referred to his jail as a concentration camp?
This act displays growing contempt in the United States for violations of human rights as the government continues to enable hatred and pander toward white supremacists. Many of Arpaio’s supporters defend his practices by pointing out the decrease in crime that coincided with his tenure, but taxpayers in his district paid for multiple lawsuits each year to defend his atrocities.
The interaction between the citizens of this country and the police has always been racially charged. Black drivers and Hispanic drivers have, respectively, a 31 percent and 23 percent higher chance of being pulled over, compared to white drivers.
It is a horrifying — but not shocking — statistic, and law enforcement officers like Arpaio entrench this notion of inequality further. We are left with federal prisons becoming capital ventures as the industry becomes privatized and further dehumanized.
The prison system in America is an affliction of the justice system. Politicians employ harsh and cruel policies on inmates to sway votes by conveying how hard they’ll be on crime, but this perspective allows the populace to see them as faceless felons — the absolute scum of society. About 60 percent of inmates are nonviolent offenders, and yet they’re advertised as egregiously depraved and psychotic individuals.
All this spins the narrative of crime in favor of the elite as rates of recidivism, the tendency to return to prison, rise.
Felons are disenfranchised from voting and, therefore, alienated from any political influence that could modify or refine the prison system. Incarceration is increasingly becoming the solution to the most impoverished of society.
The most disparaged and destitute caste of society is at a loss for their dignity and their fundamental rights as incarceration rises and becomes the only alternative. The disenfranchised, voiceless portion of America needs someone to speak for them.
But it seems that in this nation, forgiveness is shown to the criminals making the arrests.
Anusheh Siddique is a political science freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]