A provision in the new federal health care law could give the Justice Department an extra tool in investigations of state-run institutions and prisons – including its high-profile probe of Maricopa County Az. sheriff Joe Arpaio, reports MainJustice.com. One federal probe involves Arpaio’s treatment of jail inmates, including those rounded up in illegal immigration sweeps. Last year Arpaio marched 220 undocumented inmates chain-gang style down a street in Phoenix in what The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund called a publicity stunt designed to humiliate them.
The new law contains a little noticed provision that allows the Attorney General to expedite subpoenas from any institution that is the subject of a Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act investigation. Arpaio has charged that the federal investigators targeted him for his politics, an allegation that has raised the profile of his case. His resistance to federal oversight has also vexed the Justice Department.