Bernie's Better Half Pals Around With Racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Helps Promote Propaganda

Bernie's Better Half Pals Around With Racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Helps Promote Propaganda

Joe Arpaio likes talking Jane Sanders. (photo from official Maricopa Count Sheriff Twitter account)

Joe Arpaio likes talking Jane Sanders. (photo from official Maricopa Count Sheriff Twitter account)

Jane Sanders - Bernie Sanders' better half who accounts for all of the couple's assets - went to "tour" disgusting human Joe Arpaio's "Tent City" prison in Maricopa County, Arizona. This is a prison made of tends with electric fencing (shockingly, no walls there) where low-level offenders are humiliated with pink underwear, given the cheapest food of any prison in the country (that's according to Arpaio), and made to suffer in the smoldering Arizona heat that can reach 140 degrees. Jane Sanders brought cameras and press and everything. She meant for it to be a publicity coup ahead of her husband's visit to Phoenix, and even put out a statement afterwards giving lip-service to the deplorable conditions in the prison.

Here's where this blows up in her face. She talked to Arpaio in front of the cameras where America's most racist law enforcement officer "told his side" of the story on Tent City. In the conversation, Jane Sanders asked Joe Arpaio about the heat, in response to which, Arpaio got to parrot is practiced line that because US soldiers face battlegrounds in very hot areas, convicted criminals could too. Watch (the exchange is about 30 seconds into the video):

Joe Arpaio: These are all convicted [criminals]; they are all doing their time.

Jane Sanders: Everybody here is convicted.

Joe Arpaio: Yes

Jane Sanders: There’s no pre-convictions.

Joe Arpaio: Nope, they’re all convicted...

Jane Sanders: Okay, that’s, I had not heard that. I had heard the opposite, I thought it changed.

Joe Arpaio: No, that’s why I like talking to you. Because at least I can get my side.

Following this, Arpaio proceeds to talk about chain gangs and how he doesn't support racial profiling (but also doesn't want to talk about it) and the pink underwear, and Sanders stood there, nodding. Heck, he even got to pitch a drug treatment facility to Mrs. Sanders.

But I digress. Forget the inhumanity of frying prisoners in 140-degree heat just because they have been convicted of an offense (like drug offenses, according to Arpaio) for a second, which Jane Sanders seemed comfortable with once she found out that Arpaio was only frying convicted criminals. That's bad enough, but it gets worse.

What Jane Sadners didn't seem to know, and did not challenge Arpaio on when she could have in front of the cameras, is that Arpaio was in fact lying about Tent City not holding any pre-trial individuals. It may not now, but it had in the very near past. In fact, Arpaio himself described it this way in 2012 to Univision and ABC News when he had to walk back writing in his autobiography that the prison was for punishment only.

”The vast majority of our population is pre-trial,” Arpaio wrote. “Punishment is post-conviction only.”

ABC News reported as recently as 2013 that at that time, most of the people housed in Tent City were awaiting trial, not convicted criminals. Jane Sanders did not seem to know this, and she certainly lacked the courage to challenge Arpaio standing next to him.

So not only did Jane Sanders accept the excuse that frying convicted prisoners in the desert heat was somehow not as inhumane but she accepted it on a basis that hasn't even always been true. Arpaio has tortured those held pre-trial, not just post-conviction in his Tent City jail.

Why is this important? Is every presidential candidate's spouse supposed to be read up on the history of every bad prison in America? Of course not. But when you are conducting a publicity tour to show you care on behalf of your spouse's campaign at one of the most controversial prison under the watch of the most controversial Sheriff in America, it's a good idea to check up on the history of both the place and the person you might see.

When you do not, you end up promoting the racists' agenda by allowing that Sheriff to propaganda unchallenged, like Jane Sanders did. It's not as though the history of the prison is not public information (heck, I found it with a simple Google search), nor as if Apraio's excuses have not been aired in the media a gazillion times.

Jane Sanders was unprepared to confront Joe Arpaio because she had only prepared for the trip as a publicity coup for her husband, not as an actual gesture of caring about the victims of Arpaio's racism. Not that anything more can be expected from the Vermonter who sits on the Texas toxic nuclear waste dumping board whose help her husband enlisted to try to dump Vermont's nuclear waste on the poor Latino community of Sierra Blanca.

And that's a damn shame.

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