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If you thought the pink underwear and chain-gang uniforms were tough justice, get a load of what America’s toughest sheriff is forcing inmates to do now.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County is forcing 38 inmates who desecrated American flags inside his jail to eat only bread and water for a week.
“These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells,” Arpaio told CNN. “Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel. It’s a disgrace … this is government property that they are destroying, and we will take action against those who act this way.”
Arpaio implemented the American flag jailhouse initiative in November. It includes listening to the “Star-Spangled Banner” every morning and “God Bless America” every night over the intercom system.
The “bread and water” regimen is actually a baked loaf of ground-up fruits, vegetables, milk powder, dough and other ingredients.
Arpaio said that any inmate who damages a flag will be eating it — without utensils — for seven days.
“I run a patriotic jail system,” said Arpaio.
The Maricopa County sheriff has made headlines in the past for his methods of jailhouse justice and for investigating President Barack Obama’s eligibility.
A federal judge ruled last May that his office has racially profiled Latinos, a decision the five-term sheriff is appealing.
The Arizona American Civil Liberties Union said it did not have a comment on Arpaio’s flags-in-cells program or the punishment he’s devised, reports NBC News.
“This is not a First Amendment situation,” Arpaio said. “When they tamper with the flag, they are tampering with government property.”
Arpaio was elected to his sixth term as sheriff for the Phoenix area in November 2012.
He said this week he’s added $3.5 million to his campaign war chest, mostly from out-of-state donors, and hinted he may either seek a seventh term as sheriff or run for governor, according to Fox News.
“Every four years, my supporters encourage me to run for governor,” Arpaio said in a written statement. “Based on these fundraising numbers and knowing I could be competitive, I will have to give it serious consideration.”