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Joe Arpaio: Ariz. sheriff puts inmates on bread and water for desecrating flags

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Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who styles himself as “America's Toughest Sheriff,” is back in the news for forcing inmates to eat only bread and water after they “desecrated” the American flags that Arpaio hung in their cells.

The six-time elected sheriff of Maricopa County put 38 inmates in six different jails on the meager rations, twice daily, after the inmates destroyed the flags, reports Fox News on Sunday.

“These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells. Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel,” Arpaio said in a statement. “It's a disgrace to those who have fought for our country.”

Arpaio explained that the inmates will subsist on bread and water for one week. The flags will be replaced, and if they destroy them again, the second offense will earn a 10-day bread and water diet.

Arpaio is already facing a civil rights lawsuit over accusations of racially profiling Latino drivers. His “tough as nails approach” is hailed by some, sharply rebuked by others.

Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Arizona, called Arpaio’s most recent bread and water move nothing more than a “publicity stunt.”

“It's certainly not illegal, but what he is doing is bad policy,” Pochoda told Reuters. “It's just another vindictive policy that has nothing to do with running a good jail system.”

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