Joe Arpaio, I suppose seeing how Ben Quayle rode his writing gig for the Dirty into Congress, has decided he wants to compete with all manner of bottom-fishing web sites. He has created a special web feature in a what he states is an attempt to drive more people to his web site -- the goofy booking photo of the day.
Several local lawyers, including some mental health advocates, are asking if it is appropriate for a sheriff to run online contests to vote for the inmate with the worst booking photos. This is a great example of a situation (like video surveillance) where public officials have less, rather than more rights and privileges than ordinary citizens. Kudos to Scott Ambrose for making a point that is seldom made, and we should remind politicians of all the time:
Arpaio says that booking photos are aired in the news media every day. A local alternative weekly even took a page from Arpaio's playbook earlier this year and let readers have fun with some of the sheriff's mug shots.
"Sheriff Joe will argue that 'I can do this because New Times can,' " Ambrose said. "There's lots of things the government can't do that you and I can."
I have another question - for what possible public purpose is Arpaio spending taxpayer money to drive people to his web site? This is so incredibly self-serving its hard to believe, but fits right in with Arpaio's whole history of taxpayer-funded self-promotion.
PS- I have always argued that booking photos should not be public information, as they amount to an improper punishment. The legal system has a technical term for someone who has been arrested but has not gone to trial: Innocent.