Sheriff Joe Arpaio

America's Toughest Sheriff is Back!

In honor of our 30 Year Anniversary, Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS) is pleased to welcome back one of our highest rated guest speakers, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Sheriff Arpaio likes to call himself "America's Toughest Sheriff", a claim few people would challenge. The stern law-and-order advocate has declared war on illegal immigration, emphasizes the punishment aspect of incarceration, and has gained national attention for housing his inmates in tents and forcing prisoners to wear pink underwear. Arpaio's message to inmates: "If you don't like it here, don't come back!"

Re-elected Maricopa County sheriff to five four-year terms since 1993, Arpaio now has the nation's third largest sheriff's office whose inmate population has more than doubled during his tenure to over 10,000. He proudly says that he has eliminated almost every comfort from county jails and now runs the cheapest prisoner meals in the United States. He has strengthened several crime prevention programs such as the "all-volunteer, civilian Posse program", which assists the sheriff's office. He has also instituted programs such as "Hard Knocks High", an approved high school program for inmates, and "ALPHA" which aims to get inmates away from drug abuse.

Controversial for his crime prevention techniques, America's Toughest Sheriff - and a Friend of Bail - will be speaking at the Political Action Luncheon on February 23rd. Join us at the 2011 PBUS Winter Conference, and listen to Sheriff Joe Arpaio address the criminal justice system and our Bail Industry.

One Tough Lawman

Born June 14, 1932 in Springfield, Massachusetts, Joseph M. Arpaio served in the Army from 1950 to 1953 – just before the start of the Korean War. Later, he became a police officer in Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas for almost five years. In Washington, he learned to never back down from a fight and earned the department’s “most assaulted officer” title in 1957.

He joined the Bureau of Narcotics, the predecessor to Drug Enforcement Agency, after being told they needed Italian-American agents to pursue members of the Mafia. He served in the agency for 32 years, worked around the world, and retired after serving four years as the head of DEA’s Arizona office. In 1993, he was elected as Maricopa County sheriff.


Not one to shy away from controversy, Sheriff Arpaio banned smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines, and unrestricted television in all jails. To cut labor costs, his inmates are fed twice a day, and he stopped serving salt and pepper. He set up the “Tent City” to house convicted inmates at lower costs; during the summer, when temperature sometimes exceeds 110 degrees, fans and water are provided in the tents. He reintroduced chain gangs (and started the nation’s first female and juvenile chain gangs), wherein low-risk inmates under disciplinary action can join the general prison population after 30 days of unpaid volunteer public service. Juvenile volunteers earned high school credit towards a diploma.

Pink Underwear

To stop prisoners smuggling traditional white underwear to sell on the streets, Sheriff Arpaio introduced pink underwear, and subsequently introduced pink handcuffs. In 2005, he ordered nearly 700 maximum-security prisoners to march four blocks to a new jail facility wearing only pink underwear and flip-flops. “It’s a security issue,” Arpaio said. "If you let them wear their clothes, they can conceal the fake keys and everything else."

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