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Florida Sheriff Plans To Use Hurricane Irma To Bump Up Arrest Numbers, Fill His Jail

Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, spent most of Wednesday morning letting America know what an awful person he is. With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, Judd helpfully suggested sex offenders or those with outstanding warrants would be better off lashing themselves to a nearby tree rather than seeking shelter.

If you go to a shelter for #Irma, be advised: sworn LEOs will be at every shelter, checking IDs. Sex offenders/predators will not be allowed

This part of it is awful enough, even as it's lawful enough. Florida law bans sex offenders from hurricane shelters, even though lots of registered sex offenders pose no threat to anyone around them. Some sex offenders are unrepentant pedophiles and rapists. But many, many others have been rung up for things like statutory rape, sexting, and other violations that should have zero effect on their ability to find housing, seek shelter, become meaningfully employed, etc.

But Judd didn't stop there. He probably should have. But Sheriff Grady Judd -- like other infamous sheriffs (Joe Arpaio, David Clarke, Of Nottingham, etc...): -- appears to thrive on hate and negative press coverage. So, Judd amped it up. Rather than make it appear his deputies would simply be enforcing the state's ridiculous sex offender laws, he piled on, adding everyone who might have an outstanding warrant, something that covers stuff as innocuous as unpaid parking tickets.

If you go to a shelter for #Irma and you have a warrant, we'll gladly escort you to the safe and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail

So, lots and lots of locals might consider possibly drowning, rather than being arrested, tossed into Judd's jail… and possibly drowning there. After all, it's not as though law enforcement officers feel obliged to ride out the storm while keeping an eye on people they barely consider to be people.

When Katrina hit, the Orleans Parish sheriff's office abandoned one of its jails, leaving 600 inmates to fend for themselves. Cells flooded, toilets backed up, the power went out, and by the end of it, the sheriff's department couldn't account for 517 of those inmates. In the aftermath of Harvey, the same thing is happening in Houston's jails, although officials there have been following through with better evacuation efforts. Still, prisoners are resorting to drinking contaminated toilet water as the water supplies have ceased functioning and inmates are reporting cells with standing water 4-6" deep.

So, a jail is not a "safe and secure shelter" by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even "safe and secure" outside of the hurricane context. Multiple inmates have died in Judd's jail -- none of them of old age. Polk County deputies also allegedly abused arrested children (yes, the state's effed-up laws allow children to be jailed in adult prisons) and engaged in sexual misconduct with arrestees.

But this sort of thing is what one expects of Sheriff Judd. The man has built quite a reputation on destroying lives. Most of this comes through Judd's bizarre obsession with sexual crimes. His office runs sting operations even prosecutors have backed away from because they border on entrapment. He has repeatedly engaged in extraterritorial arrests, sending his deputies all over the nation to arrest alleged pedophiles.

That's what he engages in when not grandstanding around making statements like "I'm going to go lock the CEO of Apple up" if Apple won't help him break into an encrypted iPhone or iPad. And now there's this: Judd letting everyone know they'll need to pass an impromptu background check to be allowed to escape the brunt of Hurricane Irma's landfall.

But the last laugh may belong to everyone but Judd if he carries through on this threat. Those who don't -- or won't -- seek shelter may have to be rescued by members of his department. And several of those are going to include people he hates, like sex offenders and people who won't pay their parking tickets. Because, unlike Judd, we're not cruel: we legitimately hope that none of his deputies lose their lives rescuing people who might have been safely inside a shelter if not for Judd's awful threats to lock people up.

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