Today, a judge found former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio – who gained notoriety (and popularity) for his anti-immigrant policies – guilty of contempt of court for not putting an end to traffic patrols that targeted immigrants and Latinos following a court order. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found Arpaio guilty for disobeying a 2011 judge’s order to put an end to the racial profiling of Latinos, according to the Los Angeles Times. The decision comes a month after lawyers presented their closing arguments.
A judge will sentence Arpaio on October 5. Bolton’s decision is the latest blow for Arpaio, who in November lost re-election, marking the end of his 24-year tenure as sheriff. Earlier this year, his successor, Sheriff Paul Penzone announced that Tent City – an open-air jail where inmates endured extreme weather and forcibly wore pink underwear – will shutter. Arpaio installed the inhumane jail in his first year as sheriff, and his legacy is largely tied to it.
For two decades, Arpaio enacted controversial policing methods that targeted and harmed communities of color. For too long, Arpaio instilled fear in Maricopa County’s most disenfranchised. Back in 2011, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow issued a preliminary injunction that ordered him to stop unlawfully detaining Latino drivers. But the racial profiling continued to happen – something Arpaio and his deputies fessed up to but said wasn’t intentional.
Snow didn’t buy this explanation – instead arguing that Arpaio defied the law because he thought it’d give him a better shot at winning his 2012 re-election bid, according to NPR. “Sheriff Arpaio did so based on the notoriety he received for, and the campaign donations he received because of, his immigration enforcement activity,” Snow said.
Arpaio may spend up to six months in jail.