'America's Toughest Sheriff' Unapologetic About Tactics, Inmate Treatment

Inmates are also forced to wear old-fashioned black-and-white prison stripes with pink socks, pink underwear and pink sheets. Arpaio notoriously had all the prison underwear dyed pink for better inventory control, according to his Web site, and ordered pink handcuffs to match -- and possibly humiliate.

Another inmate called it all part of his "publicity stunt."

"I think he does it as a publicity stunt," the inmate said. "The pink handcuffs, the reality show...I think he has a taste, a love of the limelight and he should just get an agent and move to Hollywood. No disrespect to you guys, but he brings you guys here and he videotapes us almost like animals."

Arpaio told "Nightline" prison means punishment not pampering.

Allegations of Mistreatment by Jail Guards

Thousands have filed lawsuits against Arpaio's department for controversial tactics and treatment. A lawsuit was filed in 1996 after a young man in custody was forced into a restraint chair and died. His family settled for $6 million.

Despite the settlement, Arpaio said he has full confidence in his staff. "Our officers did nothing wrong, there were no criminal charges...My jail officers are great. I have full confidence in my deputies, my staff," he said.

When asked about the millions in settlement pay outs, Arpaio said, "I didn't pay it out, the insurance company paid it out. I would have love for it to go to trial on that case..."

Another man in custody died in a restraint chair and his family was awarded $8.25 million after a surveillance video emerged of 14 guards beating the prisoner and shocking him. Officials were accused of discarding of evidence, including the man's crushed larynx -- an accusation which Arpaio denied.

"That's not true -- the Medical Examiner had control," he said.

Arpaio told "Nightline" he is "not proud of losing anyone."

Prostitution Crackdown Ends in Scandal

But before he turned his focus on the border, Arpaio's team of deputies and his so-called volunteer posse were involved in a clampdown on prostitution in 2003. That too wasn't without its difficulties.

The crackdown reportedly backfired because volunteers were seen on video having sexual contact with prostitutes. Arpaio said that was an "erroneous report."

"We went into neighborhood and arrested 40-50 prostitutes. The reasons that the cases were dismissed were political reasons," he said.

The county attorney said it was unable to press charges because volunteers had sexual contact with the people they were supposed to be arresting.

"They were naked because I allowed them to take their clothes off to develop the case -- that's not unusual," Arpaio said. "They had no sex -- one time, one little case, one woman accidentally put her hand on one of our officers -- one time! And that was it...they've done a brilliant job."

"Nightline" pressed Arpaio on his team's "brilliant job." Arpaio said he never lied or denied that volunteers got naked during the crackdown.

When asked if his leadership style encouraged his officers to display patterns of abusive behavior to inmates and others, Arpario said that the allegation was "ridiculous."

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