When Gary Raney was Ada County sheriff, he would get emails from people asking him to run the county jail more like the way Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio ran his.
“They would say, ‘There’s this sheriff that keeps people in a tent city and makes them wear pink underwear and feeds them green bologna and you should run your jail that way,’ ” Raney said. “My stock response always was, ‘If your son or daughter were in jail, would you want them treated that way?’ I never had anybody say, ‘Yes.’ ”
Raney retired in 2015 and is now a law enforcement consultant. He said Monday that President Donald Trump’s pardoning of Arpaio “bothers me on many fronts.”
“It bothers me on the law enforcement front, the constitutional law front, the presidential pardon authority front,” he said. “Arpaio did not have a good reputation. The rate of deaths in his jail is horrible. The civil litigation against his jail is horrible.”
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Raney said he is worried about the message the pardon may send.
“From a fairness standpoint of applying the law and the Constitution and equal protection under the law, [Arpaio] had extra protection under the law and that is not the premise that we are built on,” Raney said.
“Most presidential pardons come after sentencing because the sentence is disproportionate or because we learned something new that should have been taken into account. In this case, he received a presidential pardon before the president even knew what the sentence was. So it really dismissed the law and it dismissed the judicial process for what most people perceive as political payback.”
Raney is among a few outspoken Idahoans who reacted to the pardon, announced Friday evening.
Ada County Sheriff Steve Bartlett and Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue did not respond Monday to the Statesman’s request for their thoughts.
Jim Jones, former Idaho attorney general and former chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, penned a column over the weekend about the matter.
“The unprecedented pardon of Arpaio’s unpardonable conduct also shows disrespect for the justice system and our constitutional courts,” Jones wrote. “It shows that some favored people can get away with misconduct that the great majority of citizens would have to answer for. It is not a very good example to set, especially where the pardoned individual was part of the law enforcement community — a person sworn to follow and respect the law.”
Idaho’s congressional delegation largely took a pass on sharing their thoughts Monday.
Sen. Mike Crapo “would have liked to have seen the case more adjudicated before he could really pass judgment on guilt or innocence,” said Lindsay Nothern, Crapo’s spokesman. Nothern noted that Arizona voters have already passed their own judgment on Arpaio by turning him out of office last year.
Granting the pardon is fully within the president’s purview, Nothern said.
Sen. Jim Risch noted the separation of that role as well while declining comment. “The granting or denying of pardons is entirely within the jurisdiction and discretion of the president. Congress has no role in the process,” said his spokewoman, Kaylin Minton.
Arpaio endorsed Rep. Raul Labrador in 2010, the year Labrador was the challenger trying to replace Rep. Walt Minnick. Labrador on Monday declined comment on the pardon. Earlier this month, while remarking on the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., the congressman said commenting on such national news events is “not my style on these issues — and my constituents know that.”
Rep. Mike Simpson’s office did not respond to requests for comment.