Sheriff Joe takes candy away from kids in jail

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PHOENIX -- The following is a press release from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office:

Juvenile inmates have referred to Sheriff Joe Arpaio as many things, usually unkind four letter word descriptives. Now the name calling list will grow to include "former sugar daddy" and " sourpuss."

Effective immediately, nearly 50 of their favorite candy items and cookies to purchase and eat will no longer be made available to the 200 juvenile inmates currently housed in the Sheriff's jail system.

Everything from Snickers to Cherry Cola to Girl Scout Cookies to glazed donuts is off the menu, Arpaio says, as he endeavors to improve the health of the juveniles remanded into his custody.

With the recent news of the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes, especially among Hispanic and African-American youth, sugary products which the juvenile inmates spend an average of $1000 week to buy from the Sheriff's canteen operation will be replaced with healthy snacks like raisins, sugar free vanilla wafers, yogurt pretzels and beef jerky.

"I don't expect this to be a welcomed policy change," says Arpaio. "But since taxpayers pay for inmate dental work and medical care, it's a bad idea to furnish these young people with the very products that can cause all kinds of medical problems."

Arpaio made the announcement in person today to a number of juvenile inmates, many of whom had just returned to their cells from Hard Knocks High School, the nation's only jailhouse high school started by Arpaio in 2001.

These are juveniles remanded to adult custody in jail for crimes of armed robbery (65), aggravated assault (40), murder (12), drive by shooting (14) and other serious crimes such as kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and attempted murder.

He also handed out a fact sheet about diabetes as a way to explain his decision and educate inmates. Juveniles and adult inmates alike purchases millions of dollars of canteen items each year, many of them food products as a way to augment the 17 cent meals inmates are served twice daily.

An austere jail system has been the hallmark of Sheriff Arpaio's administration. Since he became Sheriff in 1992, Arpaio has made several significant cost saving changes in the jails. He has taken away cigarettes, coffee, rental movies, radios, pornography magazines. He offers only very limited access to television viewing. Even condiments like salt and mustard were removed from the menu as a cost savings measure.

Additionally, inmates can no longer write letters mailed in traditional envelopes, instead can communicate with loved ones through postcards only to reduce contraband.