Joe Arpaio pardon: White House 'preparing documents' to let off former sheriff found guilty in racial profiling case

Arpaio has been convicted for criminal contempt of court, and is awaiting sentencing: Laura Segal/Reuters
Arpaio has been convicted for criminal contempt of court, and is awaiting sentencing: Laura Segal/Reuters

Donald Trump’s staff has prepared the necessary paperwork to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio once the President decides if he wants to do so.

News of the potential pardon comes just a day after Mr Trump made a 2020 campaign stop in Phoenix, where he predicted that Mr Arpaio would “be ok”. In preparation for a potential pardon, White House staff is also writing up talking points to send to surrogates who make the rounds on major cable networks, according to CNN.

Arpaio faces up to six months in prison on charges of criminal contempt of court, after refusing to stop directing his officers to detain individuals who they suspected were in the US illegally, even if a crime hadn’t been committed. After a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop the program, he refused, saying the order was “ludicrous” and “crap”.

The judge later found that Mr Arpaio’s directives to his officers systematically violated the rights of Latinos. He was convicted in July for criminal contempt of court for his refusal to change his program, and is slated to be sentenced October 5.

During his time as sheriff of Maricopa County — an area that includes Arizona’s largest city Phoenix — Arpaio became a highly controversial figure in America’s immigration debate. Mr Arpaio was known for his tough-on-immigrants approach, and for a detention facility he opened up, known as tent-city. That encampment was composed of Korean War-era tents, where inmates were forced to live and sleep wearing pink underwear in temperatures that could reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

That tent encampment was closed down after Arpaio lost reelection last November.

Arpaio was a prominent ally of Mr Trump’s during the 2016 election, lending credence to the now-President’s “law and order” credentials by endorsing him. Mr Trump and Arpaio seemed like an obvious pairing, since both supported tough-on-immigrant policies, and maintaining strict access to the US.