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Sheriff Joe Arpaio Christmas Music Playlist for Inmates

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By Kamika Dunlap on December 18, 2009 2:20 PM

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will continue to share his Christmas music playlist with inmates. 12 hours a day, everyday.

His Christmas music playlist is aimed to spread Christmas cheer to 8,000 inmates inside Arizona county jails.

A federal court has thrown out the sixth lawsuit filed by inmates trying to stop the sheriff from playing holiday music in his jails this winter, the Associated Press reports.

Six lawsuits were filed against his policy of playing festive music, but the Sheriff Joe Arpaio issued a defiant statement, in red and green letters no less, saying the practice would continue.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio calls himself "America's toughest sheriff" and plays music from all countries and faiths, but inmates claim that the holiday music pumped in for 12 hours at a time is cruel and unusual punishment and forces participation in religious celebrations.

For two decades, Sheriff Joe Arpaio basked in publicity over his colorful tactics, such as dressing jail inmates in pink underwear and housing them in outdoor tents during the brutal Phoenix summers.

Four of the six lawsuits against his policy claimed his policy was "cruel and unusual punishment".

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is best known for his immigration sweeps in mostly Hispanic neighborhoods and now champions prison carols and holiday tunes.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Republican, is highly popular in Arizona. He won reelection last year with 55% of the vote in the state's most populous county -- though he has said he is not interested in running for governor.

So what is "cruel and unusual" punishment?

Although, no universal definition exists, any punishment that is clearly inhumane or that violates basic human dignity may be deemed "cruel and unusual."

In addition, under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, individuals convicted of a crime have the right to be free of "cruel and unusual" punishment while in jail or prison.

This means that after a criminal defendant is convicted and sentenced, the Constitution still acts to guarantee his or her fundamental rights concerning conditions of confinement and treatment by corrections personnel.

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