Joe Arpaio, Web Mogul

Joe Arpaio, I suppose seeing how Ben Quayle rode his writing gig for the Dirty into Congress, has decided he wants to compete with all manner of bottom-fishing web sites.  He has created a special web feature in a what he states is an attempt to drive more people to his web site -- the goofy booking photo of the day.

Several local lawyers, including some mental health advocates, are asking if it is appropriate for a sheriff to run online contests to vote for the inmate with the worst booking photos.  This is a great example of a situation (like video surveillance) where public officials have less, rather than more rights and privileges than ordinary citizens.  Kudos to Scott Ambrose for making a point that is seldom made, and we should remind politicians of all the time:

Arpaio says that booking photos are aired in the news media every day. A local alternative weekly even took a page from Arpaio's playbook earlier this year and let readers have fun with some of the sheriff's mug shots.

"Sheriff Joe will argue that 'I can do this because New Times can,' " Ambrose said. "There's lots of things the government can't do that you and I can."

I have another question - for what possible public purpose is Arpaio spending taxpayer money to drive people to his web site?  This is so incredibly self-serving its hard to believe, but fits right in with Arpaio's whole history of taxpayer-funded self-promotion.

PS-  I have always argued that booking photos should not be public information, as they amount to an improper punishment.  The legal system has a technical term for someone who has been arrested but has not gone to trial:  Innocent.


  1. scraphoops:

    I've always thought this was weird. Cops could break down my door right now and haul me off and charge me with murdering babies (it's easy). I didn't actually murder any babies and I will eventually be found not guilty, but my picture is splashed everywhere saying I'm a baby murderer. How has this not produced thousands of lawsuits.

  2. a leap at the wheel:

    On the upside, if he's spending all his time online, he won't have time to knock down people's houses.

  3. Mark:

    Booking photos should be available to the public. We have a right to know who has committed crimes against us for several reasons
    1: If the person committed the crime, we should be able to see who they are so we can protect ourselves from them.
    2: As citizens we all pay for crimes committed, and we all paid to have this person put away. The info should be public, much like Megan's law makes sex crime information and personal photos available.
    3: If the person is wronged we should be able to see the photos, so that a potential witness can come forward about the wrongful conviction.

    If Joe has done anything wrong here, it is that he has not posted ALL the photos of convicts that he has available.

    Also I can see wanting to get people to see the Sheriff department website. If more people visit, they might leave tips, parents can show kids some of the convicts and let them know if they commit a crime, that is where they can end up. And the clever part is that the Sheriff is doing this by getting free publicity rather then spend public money.

    I would think a libertarian should commend the clever way of running government on a decent budget.

  4. Griffin3:


    Booking photo == arrest != committed the crime

    Mugshots does NOT mean convicted

    See comment #1.

    Perhaps I can draw a Venn diagram to explain it more clearly.

  5. jdt:

    I hate when they air 911 calls on tv and the radio. Some things should stay private in my opinion.

  6. @Griffin3:

    Doesn't matter show them anyway.

    See item #3 above.

    And please keep your Venn diagram to yourself.

  7. Mark:

    Turns out mug shots are basically public information anyway.

    Now I really wonder what the point is about yet another Joe rant.

  8. DrTorch:

    So mark gets two strikes, but may have hit a foul ball to keep the at bat alive.

    Ok Mark, if you're so concerned about the indicted, then why not simply let HIM choose whether his mug shot is released?

  9. TomD:

    Mark, you're a really bad arguer.

    You should probably look into the concept of "begging the question."

  10. Noumenon:

    I totally invaded this guy at work's privacy by seeing his booking photo when he got accused of stealing a car, then later checking Wisconsin CCap to see when he pled not guilty. I never spoke of it to anyone else because it just felt invasive.

  11. Brian:

    Arpaio can do the same things with mugshots that regular citizens can do with them as soon as regular citizens can drive armored assault vehicles through his front door like he does to regular citizens on a semi-regular basis.

    I mean, if we're really going to argue for some reciprocity between armed government thugs and the mundanes, let's make it fun.

  12. Talnik:

    This is simple. Some cops (i.e.Arpaio) think all arrestees are suspect whether convicted or not. Some citizens (author of this blog)think all cops are suspect whether convicted or not (see the next post titled "All Police Officers Should be Videotaped Every Second They Are On The Job").
    Beats thinking for a living, I guess.

  13. Sam L.:

    Talnik wrote "This is simple. Some cops (i.e.Arpaio) think all arrestees are suspect whether convicted or not." I suspect ALL cops think arrestees are suspect--on they wouldn't have been arrested.

    I think what you meant to say was that "some cops think all arrestees are guilty".