While many may have seen Donald Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio as an act of mercy, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin call it a result of Arpaio’s political prowess. In the Melendres v. Arpaio class action suit, the Sheriff was found guilty of racial profiling and was told to make reforms to his jail.
However, he failed to make the necessary changes and was consequently found in contempt of court, facing at least 6 months of jail time that he inevitably would never serve due to his pardon.
In the case of Arpaio racial profiling was not an isolated incident. In fact, it was only one piece of a very complicated and twisted puzzle. Larkin and Lacey were co-owners of the Pheonix New Times and seemingly never found an end to the corruption taking place in Maricopa County.
The unprecedented amount of suicides and wrongful deaths that took place in the jail was indicative of how desperate things had become. Prisoners were forced to eat rotten food, give birth while shackled to their beds and were deprived of medications. But even still Arpaio seemed proud of the ship that he was running. In fact, when the jail became overcrowded one summer, he set up a tent in the 135-degree weather and dubbed it “Tent City.”
The New Times was one of few sources willing to call the Sheriff out on his abuse of power. And this was no small feat considering the vengeance that he would impose upon those who stood in his way. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Jim Larkin | Angel.co
The publication was very bothersome to Arpaio as evidenced by his banning it from all press conferences and threatening its reporters with jail time.
And it’s this annoyance that prompted the Sheriff to take action against the publication when they published his personal address in an article. Arpaio stressed that it was a threat to his safety and was considered a felony.
So he attempted to have the reporter prosecuted. However, on the day of the trial, Larkin and Lacey published an article that detailed the subpoena and expressed the injustice of the matter. Sheriff Arpaio deemed the publication of the subpoena illegal and had the two arrested.
Larkin and Lacey were no strangers to injustice of this kind. They had started their University of Arizona campus paper due to their anger over the Kent State killings. They were used to creating headlines.
However, they may have never suspected that they would end up in the headlines of major publications such as the Washington Post and the New York Times. When the public heard the details of their case, they were outraged. And the Maricopa County attorney was pressured to release them and close the case.
Larkin and Lacey received a $3.75 million dollar settlement which they used to fund organizations in Arizona who work for migrant-rights.
They no longer own the New Times, however, their newest website focuses on things that impede free speech and the First Amendment–they call it the Front Page Confidential.