President Donald Trump’s decision Friday to pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was welcome news to Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones, who is also known for outspoken and controversial views on immigration law enforcement.
“Great guy. Congrats,” Jones Tweeted out Friday, following with a Tweet on Saturday calling U.S. Sen. John McCain a “bitter old man” for criticizing the pardon.
Jones expanded on his views in a phone interview Saturday.
“Sheriff Arpaio has been a lawman his whole life. I think it (the conviction) was a political hack job, so pardoning someone like Sheriff Arpaio I’m fine with,” Jones said.
Arpaio faced possible jail time after a federal conviction following the sheriff’s office continuing to carry out immigration patrols after a judge ordered them stopped, saying they included racial profiling. The decision to prosecute Arpaio came weeks before Arpaio was on the ballot facing re-election in 2016.
Jones said he believes the conviction was a “parting kiss” from President Barack Obama.
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“I believe it was a political deal with President Obama to rid the United States of Sheriff Arpaio,” Jones said.
Jones has long advocated giving local law enforcement more power to enforce immigration law. He offered his department up this year as first in line for a program, called 287(g), that trains and deputizes local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law.
Jones said he met Arpaio at a conference in Phoenix a few years ago, and when he was deputy sheriff he sent jail staff to Phoenix to learn about Arpaio’s tent jail because Butler County had begun housing prisoners in tents as well.
There are other parallels between Arpaio, known as “America’s toughest sheriff,” and Jones.
Arpaio made news in 2013 when he announced jail inmates won’t be served meat. Jones proudly restricts problem prisoners to three meals a day of “warden burgers,” which he insists are nutritious but far from delicious.
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