Arizona’s Joe Arpaio, who has gained a reputation for being “America’s toughest sheriff,” has a soft spot when it comes to our veterans, and set up a segregated unit of his Maricopa County jail to house former military who have found themselves in trouble.
“They fought for our country. The least we can do is help them. When some came back, some had mental problems. We have drug prevention programs, alcoholism,” said Arpaio, according to Fox News.
Past practices of housing inmates in tents, clothing the men in pink underwear and working the women in chain gangs have earned him praise from the right and horror from the left. As a former veteran, he’d like to help those who served in uniform get their lives back together.
“I served in the military in the Korean War, so I have a bond with these guys. I want to see them succeed,” said Arpaio.
The cells in the unit are even painted differently — instead of the usual drab beige or green one normally associates with jail cells, these are pained a bright and patriotic red, white and blue. And that’s just for starters. Fox reported:
Flags from all branches of the military hang from the ceiling, and military themes adorn the walls.
The unit is home to 250 veterans, the majority from Maricopa County’s Durango Jail, which houses over 2,200 general population male inmates.
And the veterans appreciate it. Touche Jamar Pouncey, doing time for a probation violation, admits transition back to civilian life has been rough after serving in Iraq’s Desert Storm/Desert Shield.
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“I’ve seen decapitations, I’ve seen people burned up,” Pouncey told Fox. “I’ve seen a lot of things that affected my brain and why I do the things that I do now.”
Those in the unit also receive special treatment such as civilian job training and psychological attention for those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
“Right now, I’m going through a class for depression, stress, and for anger management,” inmate-veteran Miguel Angel Valdominos said.
Just the segregation by itself is a huge benefit, because the vets don’t have to deal with the gang violence that’s often a part of the general population.
“Where we’ve come from and what we’ve experienced throughout the military is camaraderie,” said Pouncey. “It’s deeper than what your race is. Being here is a blessing because we don’t have to deal with the constant violence.”
As much as the sheriff loves the vets, he really doesn’t want to see them again — at least not back in his facility.
“Everyone says they want to help the veterans, but we’re actually doing something about it,” said Arpaio. “We’re doing this so these guys don’t end up begging on the streets or back in here.
Watch the Fox News video by clicking here, or click the image.
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