Irma Cruelty: Florida Sheriff Threatens Jail Time for Anyone with Outstanding Warrants Seeking Shelter

In a story that shows how many people would rather show cruelty over compassion, a sheriff in Florida has made it clear that he will send to jail anyone with an outstanding warrant who seeks shelter from deadly hurricane Irma.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd spent the morning busily tweeting out the news that anyone with an outstanding warrant would not be admitted into any kind of shelter from hurricane Irma.

While some of those tweets specifically targeted sexual predators and offenders, others suggested that anyone with any kind of warrant might as well just turn themselves in and seek shelter in the county jail.

Here are some of those tweets:

Judd spoke with a local news channel, to whom he said, “Never before did I think that we’d be beat up for giving people a warning and keeping people safe. But hey, that’s okay.”

The ACLU responded with a swift and decisive response which was posted on Twitter:

“Most people with outstanding warrants are dealing with low-level and nonviolent offenses,” pointing out that many of outstanding warrants Judd was referencing were nothing more than unpaid parking tickets. They go on to make it clear that Judd’s statements were “exploiting a natural disaster and exploiting lives” and that he “be working to prepare his community, not burnishing his Joe Arpaio-style ‘tough cop’ credentials with a series of irresponsible tweets.”

The ACLU statement continued: “Sheriff Judd’s threatening tweets send the message that these individuals must choose between facing a natural disaster without aid and shelter or going to jail over things like unpaid traffic tickets.”

The Washington Post adds some insight into who Sheriff Judd really is:

Judd was elected sheriff in Polk County in 2004, having started in the office in 1972 as a dispatcher. The headline of a 2011 Tampa Bay Times article claimed Judd made “his name on moral outrage,” having devoted much of his career to ridding the county of what he called “smut and dirt,” be it strip clubs, adult video stores or escort services.

The Post goes on to describe how similar issues are being handled across the United States:

It was only weeks ago that another hurricane — this one bound for Texas — stoked fears about who would be allowed into emergency shelters. As Hurricane Harvey made its way through the Gulf of Mexico, federal authorities and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said undocumented immigrants should not fear going to shelters.

And in a joint statement, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they would focus on “lifesaving and life-sustaining activities” rather than target undocumented immigrants at evacuation sites.

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