Sheriff Joe a good ol' lightning rod

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio talks with the media before an organized crime sweep in Phoenix,...

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio talks with the media before an organized crime sweep in Phoenix, Ariz., July 29, 2010. (RICK SCUTERI/Reuters)

MICHELLE THOMPSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:11 PM ET

PHOENIX - In quiet downtown Phoenix, locals have loud opinions about the heavy-handed Sheriff Joe.

For Arizonans like Julian Holman, the 79-year-old cop goes too far.

“I think Tent City is really just an experiment by Sheriff Joe to prove to his constituents that he can get the job done, and he can be tough on crime,” said Holman, who was relaxing in downtown Phoenix Sunday.

“I don’t think you have to go to those extremes to be tough on crime.”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio does a controversial job of overseeing Maricopa County’s infamous Tent City jail.

That’s where Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is serving the first half of his 30-day drunk driving conviction.

The sheriff is famous across North America for his tough stance on crime.

He feeds inmates slop, makes them wear pink, and makes life a misery for criminals.

But some say his punishments cross the line.

“With Sheriff Joe’s model, you come out and not only are you behind, but now you’re angry because you had to suffer all the stuff you went through when you were in there,” said Holman.

“They’re more prone to commit other crimes because (of that.)”

Christopher Farris said he isn’t happy with the way Sheriff Joe runs the prison either.

“I’m not a fan,” he said.

“I just don’t think he’s a fair sheriff. I’m not a native of Arizona, but since I’ve been here, I’ve never heard anything good about the man, really.”

Others say Sheriff Joe’s cruel punishments are discouraging people from breaking the law.

“It would be a deterrent for me and probably for the common person,” said Krysta Womak.

“But I don’t know about for the career criminal.”

michelle.thompson@sunmedia.ca

@SunMichelleT


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