Arizona's self-styled "toughest Sheriff" in America, Joe Arpaio, 81, says he has placed 38 inmates on a bread and water diet in six of the state's jails under his control because they desecrated the United States flag.
"These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells. Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel. It's a disgrace to those who have fought for our county," said Arpaio in a press release Thursday. "Besides, this is government property that they are destroying, and we will take action against those who act this way."
According to the release, the American flag in emblazoned in each of the six jails under his control. Along with the flag, the overtly patriotic Arpaio makes sure that inmates listen to "The Star Spangled Banner" in the morning and "God Bless America" through the PA system at night.
Since Arpaio posted the release to his Facebook page on Thursday, it had attracted more than 2,600 comments and shared nearly 8,000 times as of Monday morning.
"The American flag means everything to me. If they dislike this country and what the flag stands for, why haven't they moved to another country where, of course, they can do anything they want? Too bad there is not a way to deport them to another country whether they are U.S. citizens or not. Let them escape to Cuba on a boat," said one of Arpaio's supporters, Cooki Turner.
"Total disgrace!! Way to go Joe!!! Save the bread for the homeless Americans who deserve it and just give them a little water!!!!" noted Bob Wooley.
Arpaio, who is also a staunch supporter of military veterans, has more than 600 of them on staff at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Arpaio, however, is also accused of illegally detaining Hispanics suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
Last year a federal judge ruled that Arpaio and his deputies violated the constitutional rights of Latinos by targeting them during raids and traffic stop.