Sir Charles, Liege of Tent City?

barkley mugshot

Charles Barkley made a big mistake.

We’re not talking about the DUI he embarrassed himself with recently, although of course that was a no-no.

Nor are we referencing the humiliating circumstances of his arrest:

According to the officer who wrote the report, “He told me that he ran the stop sign because he was in a hurry to pick up the girl I saw get in the passenger seat.”

The officer continues: “He asked me to admit that she was ‘hot.’ He asked me, ‘You want the truth?’ When I told him I did he said, ‘I was gonna drive around the corner and get a blow job.’ He then explained that she had given him a ‘blow job’ one week earlier and said it was the best one he had ever had in his life.”

The report says when Barkley was taken to the station, he told one of the employees, “I’ll tattoo my name on your ass” if he helped “get him out of the DUI.” According to the report, “He laughed and then quickly corrected himself and said, ‘I’ll tattoo your name on my ass’ and then laughed again.”

Ouch. But still, Chuck’s true blunder was all about location, location, location.

See, if a celebrity does wrong in Los Angeles County, they can always count on the protection of celeb-friendly judges and Sheriff Lee Baca to take care of them…suspended sentences, celebrity jail, early release, all that good stuff.

Elsewhere, sports heroes get plenty of cover from law enforcement – witness the case of St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, found passed out in his car at a stoplight with the car in drive and his foot on the brake! He got probation and didn’t even have to show up in court, thanks to the friendly Florida justice system!

Unfortunately, Barkley was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is located in Maricopa County.

Thus he has fallen into the clutches of America’s most obnoxious and wicked sheriff, Joe Arpaio.


It’s tough to know where to start with this douche, a Masshole transplanted to the desert in a grand quest to promote himself and trample on the Constitution.

So we’ll refer to “Inhumanity Has a Price,” a wide-ranging takedown of “Sheriff Joe” by John Dickerson, published in the Phoenix New Times in late 2007:

Vermin, filth, medical care suggestive of POW camps, chronic mismanagement, the wanton destruction of records, and a steady parade of corpses in Maricopa County jails have cost taxpayers an astonishing — and until now, undisclosed — 41.4 million dollars.

Joe Arpaio has perpetuated his reign as “America’s toughest sheriff” with an open checkbook.

Your open checkbook.

The Sheriff has captured the imagination of voters with his almost cartoonish contempt for the prisoners in his charge. He’s subjected inmates to pink underwear, chain gangs, and rancid bologna sandwiches, and he’s garnered big wins at the polls. But Arpaio’s jail policies have generated a tsunami of lawsuits from prisoners and their families.

pink chain gang

There simply isn’t another jail system in America with this history of taxpayer-financed litigation.

New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston, for example, collectively housed more than 61,000 inmates per day last year. From 2004 through November of this year, these same county jails had a combined 43 prison-conditions lawsuits filed against them in federal courts.

In the very same three-year time frame, despite housing a mere 9,200 prisoners per day, Sheriff Arpaio was the target of a staggering 2,150 lawsuits in U.S. District Court and hundreds more in Maricopa County courts.

With a fraction of the inmate population, Arpaio has had 50 times as many lawsuits as the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston jail systems combined.

Based on records produced under the Freedom of Information Act, a review of federal and state records and a comparison with other correctional facilities, the picture that emerges is clear: Cruelty costs.


Every sheriff gets sued over jail conditions. The problem is that Joe Arpaio gets sued thousands of times more than any of the others.

The article is chock-full of startling brutality cases, several of them against people who had only been arrested, not charged or convicted

Sheriff Joe not only runs his jails in a draconian and hateful manner, he is also a total media whore, who revels in attention such as was provided by this 1999 CNN article:

The tent city looks like a military camp in the desert, with thick canvas sleeping quarters spreading out in a remote area of Arizona.

The inhabitants, however, are not soldiers, but residents of an unusual, some say brutal, prison run by legendary lawman Joe Arpaio, called the toughest sheriff in the West.

For the Maricopa County sheriff, who opened the nation’s largest tent prison in 1993, saving taxpayer pennies matters more than comforting convicted felons.

“We took away coffee, that saved $150,000 a year. Why do you need coffee in jail?” says Arpaio, patrolling the dusty, barren grounds. “Switched to bologna sandwiches, that saved half a million dollars a year.”

Arpaio makes inmates pay for their meals, which some say are worse than those for the guard dogs. Canines eat $1.10 worth of food a day, the inmate 90 cents, the sheriff says. “I’m very proud of that too.”

Critics rail against harsh conditions in the prison, where temperatures can top 100 degrees.

“We still have rights, but they act like we’re scum,” one inmate complains.

Adds Eleanor Eisenberg of the ACLU: “Sheriff Arpaio has conditions in his jail that are inhumane, and he’s proud of it.”

Arpaio boasts of his chain gangs for men and women, which “contribute thousands of dollars of free labor to taxpayers each month,” according to his Web site.

Inmates follow strict fashion and lifestyle guidelines. They are forced to wear old-fashioned prison stripes and pink underwear. Prohibited items include cigarettes, adult magazines, hot lunches and television — except for his bedtime story reading, a self-styled literacy program broadcast nightly to the inmates.

We have a friend in Phoenix who applied for the bedtime-story-reading job when she saw the incredible salary it offered.

Then she found out that the inmates routinely take out contracts on the lives of people who read “Great Expectations” to them at nightfall…such is the odium for the trappings of Sheriff Joe’s power.

tent city prisoners

Another insane element of Sheriff Joe’s regime is his “Posse,” a bunch of middle-aged wanna-be lawmen who wear silly uniforms and specialize in persecuting Mexicans and pseudo-legal operations like this totally-inadmissible-in-court sex sting from 2004:

First, the undercover officer handed the suspected prostitute $40. Then he undressed. There was dirty talk, kisses and a massage. Finally, the woman agreed to perform a sex act for an additional $100.

The deal done, the woman should’ve been hauled off in handcuffs — the charge: Solicitation of prostitution, prosecutors say.

Instead, the posse member continued playing his role for several more minutes, stopping just shy of intercourse.

Nearly 60 women arrested in November during a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office prostitution sting will not be prosecuted because the investigators went too far, the county attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

More than 70 people were arrested Nov. 13 on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution or operating a house of prostitution as part of Operation House Call and Operation Destiny — touted as possibly the nation’s largest single-day crackdown on the illicit sex trade.

Authorities said many of the women arrested were operating brothels out of middle-class homes and massage parlors throughout the Valley. More than 30 homes and 10 massage parlors were raided.

In announcing that the women would not be prosecuted, a news release from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said, “the techniques utilized by the undercover sheriff’s deputies and posse members undermines prosecution by reducing the likelihood of conviction.”

Records detail instances in which deputies or posse members fondled the breasts and genitals of the women and allowed the women to touch their penises with their mouths and hands — all in the hopes of convincing the women they were not law enforcement officers.

Officers going nude is unacceptable, said Barnett Lotstein, special assistant county attorney. Participating in sex acts is that much worse.

“This behavior is not appropriate. We don’t approve of it and we never authorized it. I want to make that clear,” Lotstein said. “I have never read a report where a law enforcement or a representative went as far as these people did.”

If there is one thing Sheriff Joe loves more than illegal deeds in the service of retributional “justice,” it’s a celebrity prisoner in Tent City.

That’s a two-fer for the Sheriff – he gets to show off for the cameras and lay a medieval smackdown on someone who, unlike him, is famous for something other than violating civil liberties!

Here are some highlights from Sheriff Joe’s nonstop press availability when Mike Tyson came to Tent City…

tyson 1

tyson 2

We’re sure putting on that ridiculous uniform showed Iron Mike the way back to the straight and narrow. Oh wait, no it didn’t, it was just an opportunity for Sheriff Jerkoff to parade around before the adoring press corps…

So the question becomes: Could it be Barkley’s turn to don the pink undies??

As the New York Daily News reports, the concept of beneficial treatment for local celebrities might not be totally dead in Phoenix.

The former Suns star might dodge Tent City after all!

Charles Barkley – pretty in pink?

Sir Charles could wind up wearing a prison jumpsuit in that hue after pleading guilty Monday to DUI stemming from his New Year’s Eve arrest in Arizona.

When he was busted, the 46-year-old basketball Hall of Famer told Scottsdale cops he was on his way to get oral sex from a woman who had impressed him with her talents the week before.

Cops said his blood-alcohol level was 0.149, substantially higher than Arizona’s legal limit of 0.08.

He also jokingly offered to “tattoo” a cop’s name on his rear end if it would get him out of trouble, police said.

The retired superstar also pleaded guilty to running a red light in Monday’s proceedings.

He was sentenced to 10 days in jail, which would be reduced to five if he enters an alcohol rehab program, and must pay $2,000 in fines.

The former Phoenix Suns superstar and current TNT basketball commentator goes to the hoosegow March 21.

As of now, he’s slated to do his time in the Lower Buckeye detention facility in Phoenix, but if things go wrong it’s possible he could be sent to Arizona’s notorious Tent City Jail where inmates must wear pink.

We wish Sir Charles the best in avoiding the ridiculous prison that is more about promoting “America’s Toughest Sheriff” than about any real sense of justice.

Meanwhile, we can’t fathom why Maricopa County residents can’t see through this fraud of a lawman.

The dude can’t even handle a Q&A with his own subordinates, much less a debate with other candidates for office!

There have been several debates scheduled this year between the candidates that are running for the Office of Sheriff. All the candidates have appeared minus one, Joe Arpaio.

Why is Joe so afraid to debate his policies in public with the other candidates? Could it be that he couldn’t read from his “scripted” speech that he has given hundreds of times before other public gatherings where he makes his outlandish claims to fame.

Several years ago Sheriff Arpaio visited the outlying patrol districts of the Sheriff’s Office to what was suppose to be a “question and answer” meeting between his employees. Instead at each of these four meetings he started out with his canned political speech telling the deputies how important he was and that they depended upon him for their jobs. At District’s Two and Three, he was politely asked by Patrol Sergeant’s in attendance if he could answer questions from the deputies. He hesitantly stated that he wasn’t prepared to answer any questions but would try. He was then asked basic questions that involved officer safety issues, the lack of training, and pay issues. Arpaio fumbled trying to answer, and on several occasions sidestepped the question entirely.

Weeks after these meetings, the deputies and sergeants that asked these questions to Sheriff Arpaio were transferred to newly created positions within the office. One assignment was being stationed in the basement of the main jail on graveyard to answer a telephone that never rang, and another to the property room, inventorying items in storage.

After winning office in 1992, Sheriff Joe implemented his ludicrous “reforms” and became extremely popular in the county. He won his 1996 re-election race by a landslide, and a third term in 2000, when he took 66 percent of the vote.

However, shifting demographics and a growing unrest with Arpaio’s misdeeds are gradually eroding his support. The 2004 election saw Sheriff Joe drop 10 percentage points, while still winning a decisive victory; however, his 2008 re-election bid was a tougher go, and he only took 55% to his opponent’s 42%.

We’d say “Wake Up, Phoenicians!” but really the problem isn’t the city dwellers, it’s the unreconstructed hicks and hardliners who live on the county outskirts that keep voting the guy into office.

We can only hope that whether by retirement or ouster, America’s Evillest Sheriff won’t serve beyond 2012.

And Sir Charles – behave yourself in Buckeye, lest you be donning pink underoos.

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

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