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First Mention: Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Targeted 'Deadbeat Parents' In 1995

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio made his name long ago as a flamboyant and controversial law man. So on the occasion of his pardon, we dug into NPR's archives to discover the first time we reported on him. That mention of Joe Arpaio came on Morning Edition May 25, 1995.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BOB EDWARDS, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Bob Edwards. If you commit a crime in Maricopa County, Ariz., you better be prepared for what's in store for you at the county jail. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has canceled inmate coffee, banned smoking and girlie magazines, reinstituted chain gangs and tried to ban network television.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Today Arpaio is best known for his aggressive pursuit of people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. But back then in 1995, he was focused on fathers and mothers who were behind in their child support payments. Weekend ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host Daniel Zwerdling interviewed Arpaio that summer. The sheriff had just rounded up more than 100 so-called deadbeat parents.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

JOE ARPAIO: I sent out a 160-volunteer posse, men and women.

SHAPIRO: This armed posse would arrest the parents and bring them to Arpaio's command center.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ARPAIO: We did take some people away their jobs. And then we booked them all, and they stayed in jail until either they paid their bail. By the way, the bail is set at the amount that's owed. If you owe a thousand dollars child support, you have to put up a thousand dollars.

SHAPIRO: Zwerdling asked Arpaio why he would expend so much effort to round up negligent parents, and Arpaio answered this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ARPAIO: Our young people are the future of this country. And when children or even teenagers do not have the money to pay for clothes and food and education, I think it's very serious. We have to take care of our young people.

MCEVERS: Sheriff Joe Arpaio talking to NPR on August 6, 1995, his first appearance on these airwaves.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.