WASHINGTON -- Arizona's infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- the man who brands himself as "America's toughest sheriff" and has launched an extensive investigation into whether President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen -- will have to make some changes under a settlement with the federal government on Friday that would resolve some allegations that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office routinely violated the civil rights of Latinos.
The agreement, approved by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, would partially resolve the lawsuit, specifically the allegations that Arpaio's office unlawfully detained Hispanic workers during worksite raids and violated their Fourth and 14th Amendment rights as well as the allegation that his office retaliated against critics in violation of the First Amendment.
Separately, the agreement would require Arpaio's office to expand language access for Hispanics who are held in the county's jails. Arpaio will still be headed to trial next month to resolve allegations in the lawsuit that his department targeted Latino drivers.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark Kappelhoff of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said the agreement offered “important safeguards against future constitutional violations" and was in the best interests of residents of Maricopa County.
“The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office changed many of their practices after the commencement of our litigation, and these agreements ensure that progress continues and the Constitutional rights of the people of Maricopa County will be protected for the long term," Kappelhoff said.
DOJ's lawsuit accused Arpaio's jail officials of referring to Latinos as "wetbacks," "Mexican bitches" and "stupid Mexicans" and said that Arpaio "voiced his biased opinion of Latinos and Latino culture" in a book he co-wrote back in 2008. His office launched lengthy investigations into the federal judge handling the case, which Arpaio apologized for at a hearing in April.
Under the agreement, Arpaio's office must have written policies and protocols for workplace raids and submit them to the Justice Department. They also must provide any information and documents that DOJ requests about worksite raids.
Additionally, Arpaio's office will be banned from retaliating against people who criticize him or his department. He will also have to make sure that inmates who cannot speak English have access to bilingual staff, interpretation services and Spanish-language translations of written policies in jail. All vital announcements must be made in both Spanish and English under the agreement.
Jail employees also will be prohibited from "demeaning inmates or acting disparagingly against any inmate" regardless of their age, nationality, religious beliefs, race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, veteran status, ancestry or disability.