A recent federal audit gives Maricopa County jails high marks for cleanliness but falls short of absolving the sheriff's office of racial profiling.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the U.S. Department of Justice should review the U.S. Marshals Service audit and resolve its ongoing investigation into allegations that deputies target residents based on their race.
"The point is, one hand doesn't know what the other is doing," Arpaio said. "The information they got ... they should turn this over to DOJ. They would say, 'Boy, this is pretty good, you did all the work for us.'"
The audits do not review the two issues at the heart of the federal investigation — deputies' street-level enforcement efforts and services for non-English speakers in Maricopa County jails.
The Justice Department has been fighting for extensive records related to booking procedures, language and interpretation services, arrests, and access to staff and jails.
Sheriff's office attorneys repeatedly have said they are cooperating with the civil-rights probe but set conditions on the breadth of documents they would release.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department sued the sheriff's office in an effort to force Arpaio to turn over thousands of records federal agents have requested.
Arpaio's attorneys have called the requests overly broad and believe federal investigators want to comb through years of documents in an effort to find error with the sheriff's office and force the agency into a consent decree that meets the demands of the federal government.
The 15-page audits of individual jails are the result of annual inspections the Marshals Service conducts of Arizona county facilities that hold federal prisoners for days at a time.
If the jail fell short on the inspection, the Marshals Service would simply remove federal prisoners from the facility, said David Gonzales, U.S. marshal for Arizona.
"This is just an inspection, not an investigation," Gonzales said. "We weren't doing an audit of the facilities in Maricopa County to determine if they were violating any civil or criminal laws."
Inspectors are looking to ensure the most basic needs are met, including access to showers, medical care and food.