Merry Christmas! Sheriff Joe Makes Inmates Sing For Decent Food

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has his own way of getting in the Christmas spirit: he has inmates perform Christmas carols for him “American Idol”-style and serves the winner a “full turkey dinner with all the real trimmings” as opposed to the usual gruel, which the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office says “vaguely resembles an average Christmas meal” and costs 14 cents.

A press release from Arpaio’s office says the man who describes himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” would be holding a caroling contest for pre-trial inmates in “a move likely to make Ebenezer Scrooge smile.”The contest was held on Tuesday and included about 50 inmates “held on charges ranging from burglary and DUI to murder.” They were judged by Arpaio, Santa Claus, and Elfis, the singing detention officer, who performed “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.”

The winner and his or her cellmates would be served meals with “real full off-the-bone turkey, real mashed potatoes, and Christmas cookies – a treat not usually served in Sheriff Arpaio’s tough but humane jail system.”

The top three inmate winners were given a “Christmas stocking full of canteen goodies” that the Sheriff asked them to donate to the charity of their choice.

Arpaio’s staffers videotaped the performances and will show it to the whole inmate population, the office said in a press release. A phone call for comment wasn’t immediately returned.

(H/T Phoenix New Times)

Late Update: Jeff Sprong of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Media Relations Unit informs us that contestant #1, Jodi Arias, won the contest. Arias, who was the subject of a “48 Hours” documentary, is currently awaiting trial for the alleged murder of her boyfriend. More here.