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MCSO Lessons in Charity

Here’s an interesting dichotomy: The sheriff, who is a purported proponent of charity, prohibits acts of charity among the inmates in his charge. It’s a rule—one I recently broke. I gave food to someone who was hungry. It wasn’t much, just a snack. Of course, this doesn’t make me a saint (not that there would be any confusion—many misguided souls believe I’m the devil incarnate). Who wouldn’t spare a little food for someone who was hungry? No-brainer there.

Yet true to the adage “No good deed goes unpunished,” my random act of kindness resulted in “restriction,” meaning no phone calls (except legal) and no canteen. The latter is where the crux of the irony lies. I chose to give food to someone who was hungry, and for that I was punished by being made to go hungry—on Thanksgiving, no less. For giving. Because my giving was in violation of a rule that at first blush seems absurd.

The rule was not created arbitrarily, however. Some inmates pass weapons or drugs. Others use canteen as currency, offering it as payment for pills, tattoos, and other unmentionables. Almost invariably, a fight breaks out on canteen day over someone failing to pay their debt. (You wouldn’t believe the drama that can escalate over a 75-cent bag of chips.) The rule was put in place to curtail, if only somewhat successfully, security risks such as these, not to keep hungry people hungry. But rather than split hairs and run the risk of showing bias, it’s a blanket rule that applies equally to everyone (in theory, not so much in practice).

Well, I can’t let someone go hungry if I’m in a position to help. I just can’t. I don’t like feeling hungry, do you? I love food. (I’m munching on a green apple as I write this.) Does this justify my breaking a rule? That would depend on whom you’re asking. Any officer with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), if going on the record, would tell you that breaking a rule, even one classified as “minor,” such as in this case, is never justified. Writer Martha Beck offers us a different perspective. In this quote, she very eloquently explains the state of my heart:

If everyone kept all the rules, we’d still be practicing cherished traditions like child marriage, slavery, and public hangings. The way humans become humane is by assessing from the heart, rather than the rule book, where the justice of a situation lies. Sometimes, you have to break the rules around you in order to keep the rules within you (my emphasis).

I’m not a rule-breaker by nature, but I sometimes go against the grain, even when it chafes. As the reality settled in that my giving in this instance would not lead to receiving, as karmic law says it should, but would lead to a loss, the seeming poetic injustice gave me pause. It was like anti-karma.

The Hearing Sergeant came to see me about the incident two days later, just as SRT (Special Response Team) was picking me up for court. Half-jokingly, one of the officers asked me, “What have you learned from this situation?” I’m sure this wasn’t the answer they were expecting, but the lesson was clear: “No charitable acts at Estrella.”

– Jodi Arias

45 Responses to MCSO Lessons in Charity

  1. Pandora /

    December 1, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Jodi, rules broken or not, I am really proud of you. Never change. You have a beautiful heart and soul and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise!

    Jail rules might say what you did is wrong, ethical rules say you did the right thing!

    And yes, I totally agree: “Sometimes, you have to break the rules around you in order to keep the rules within you”.

    Love you my friend. xoxoxo ♥

  2. Ray Chastain /

    December 1, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I am outraged at the treatment Jodi receives for doing a good deed. How can it be wrong to help someone, and to add insult to injury make her go hungry on Thanksgiving. It just goes to show the goodness of Jodi’s character.
    Hang tough Jodi we Love You!

    Ray in Virginia

  3. Alexey /

    December 1, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Silly rules and people who enjoy abusing power create problems for everybody.
    Clearly all Jodi wanted was to feed a hungy person and these douches that run the jail found a way to punish her for caring about that person. I wonder if whoever enforsed this rule and put Jodi on report felt better about himself/herself afterwards.
    Is this really America? The land of the free, the leader of the free world? So much for this purported “freedom” when feeding a hungry inmate gets you in trouble!
    Reminds me of a recent case in which a pastor was jailed for feeding the homeless.

  4. Steve Hurlbut /

    December 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Jodi continues to amaze me. Even with all the chaos going on in her life, her beautiful heart and spirit comes through with this act of kindness for a fellow inmate. She continues to weather this storm of persecution with elegance and class. We love you, Jodi.

  5. George Barwood /

    December 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Jodi, everyone is rooting for you. Things are really looking up.

  6. denise /

    December 1, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    jodi i praise you for what you did i would of done the same i go hungry a lot i leave it for my hubby i feel god asks you to not be selfish i hope you get out of there soon i watched your trisl the first time keeping up with it this time i also was a battered women but i broke the chain in fear of my life you are a good person and you have a good soul hang in there for all who love and want your friendship

  7. Bevvie/Basse /

    December 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Sweet Jesus, we have have got to get this girl out of there. Home. Not prison. So scary; if they were able to effectively-malign Jodi to millions, we are none safe.

  8. Vicki Renee /

    December 1, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Jodi…you do what feels right in your heart. They can’t take that away. I’m sooo sorry you missed Thanksgiving meal…that is wrong on so many levels. Hang in there…you’ll be out sooner than you think… <3

  9. mark curis /

    December 1, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    you are cared about Jodi and respected by many and the above is just one reason why I am honored to call Jodi my friend

  10. Maggie /

    December 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Had a feeling from THE BEGINNING you are a kind giving person, and the media turned sooooo many into HATERS! Very sad! But very happy things are turning around for you!

  11. Kathy /

    December 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    If a deed was in fact done as charitable, from the heart, with only the best of intentions. It IS still creating positive karma, depending upon the true intention of the one giving.

    One must ask, “Was the act truly giving out of love and concern?” “Was the story told then to encourage others?” As long as the answer is “YES” to both questions, it is creating good karma.

    Since we all live in society where there are rules created for the greater good in the end, at times we must to decide which is most important in the end. There may be consequences. That being said, no mans ruling, can over rule what is done with the heart….only the giver knows the true
    intention of the heart

  12. M.J /

    December 1, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    You did a beautiful thing Jodi. You have a good heart. We are all in your corner. Stay strong <3

  13. Dale H. /

    December 1, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Jodi, your random act of kindness shows how big of a heart you have, which under the best of circumstances most people probably would not do,it shows your true character. It looks as though things are finally turning around for you so stay strong,and know you are Loved.

  14. Tonya /

    December 1, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Sending my prayers to God and his son and Mary pray for those sinners. How can anyone remain silent when we see the sins of the world and forget who gave us life. That rule they enforced should be changed to give food to the ones in need.

  15. Susan /

    December 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    “Our lives are not our own…from womb to tomb we are bound to others…Past and present , with each crime and every kindness, we birth our future…..” Jodi, the golden light is a constant intention of support for you to stay true to you…light and blessings to a special soldier of light!!!

  16. Valerie A /

    December 1, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    We support you Jodi! Your heart is in The right place. Don’t change.
    See you in Az soon

    Valerie A

  17. Stacy /

    December 1, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Praying for you Jodi and have been for a loooong time!!!
    I really hope and pray that you get the justice you deserve one day!!!!
    Stay strong pretty girl!!!!

  18. Heather /

    December 1, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I love you Jodi. For so many reasons, and I’m so very proud of you. You have a wonderful heart, I was shocked to the core you were punished for being kind, for being you. Things are turning for you, we want you out of there, never forget how much you are loved <3 xoxoxo

  19. Dale /

    December 1, 2014 at 11:37 pm


    My husband says that I am just right of “Attilla the Hun.” What is right, is right! You probably handled this better than I would have, but I would have done the same thing.

    I do realize that you are in a very precarious position, but I admire your tenacity, thoughtfulness, caring personality.

    As hard as it may be, try not to let them beat you down!

    From everything that I have read, the truth and justice is finally coming to light.

    Hang in there. Light is at the end of the tunnel!

  20. Lynn /

    December 1, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    That is actually one of my favourite sayings. Sadly it often comes to pass. I am so sorry to hear that you didn’t get enough food on Thanksgiving of all days! If you would like to let us know the name of this prisoner, perhaps we could donate a few dollars into their commisionary account so that they don’t have to go hungry again.

    Much love from Ireland,

    • Ann Taylor /

      December 2, 2014 at 2:44 am

      I would be willing to donate a few dollars to her commisionary account too. Excellent idea, Lynn.

    • Edd Stack /

      December 2, 2014 at 6:20 am

      That’s a really wonderful idea Lynn

  21. Ronald Jones /

    December 2, 2014 at 2:00 am

    So refreshing to read these words from Jodi, a woman of quiet strength and an example in courage to us all.

  22. Ann Taylor /

    December 2, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Unfortunately your actions have placed you in an environment where goodwill and charity are not valued. Random acts of kindness are best practiced anonymously. 🙂

  23. Lura /

    December 2, 2014 at 3:32 am

    Praying always for you. You are a blessing to everyone around you!

  24. Edd Stack /

    December 2, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Jodi you did the right thing. And we know this isn’t the first time you have shared with those less fortunate, those that have zero support or means to buy from the comisarry. If you could im certain you would easily share many instances where you helped so many in need within the walls of Estrella. But sadly it’s only seen when you are persecuted for it. Stay true my dear friend.

  25. Miren /

    December 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Thanks for the post, it helps us know that you are ok and still calm in the midst of all that is happening.

  26. DaveC /

    December 2, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Love You Jodi!!!

  27. joysefnj /

    December 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I fully understand the ‘need’ to help another in distress – but ‘rules’ are only put in place to ‘curtail’ any misuse of behavior. Surely, you meant no harm by giving a hungry person something to eat – BUT –
    In a high risk environment (prison would work for me…) any undocumented act – and not checked for safety & health issues – could also cause someone ‘harm’ – if not by deliberate thought – perhaps – by innocent consequence.

    In prison – stuff happens. Best to keep yourself and your actions above-board… so no one can accuse YOU of anything not sanctioned by the situation you are presently confined to.

    Stay strong – but don’t expect life to be as ‘simple’ as you would prefer. 🙂

  28. James Taylor /

    December 5, 2014 at 1:04 am


    Your generosity and kindness never ceases to amaze us. Sheriff Joe is a bully and a despicable human being. We know that. However, we must stay positive and strong because together we are all going to help you achieve justice and freedom. No one, not even Sheriff Joe, is going to be able to stop that from happening. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family tonight. God bless you, Jodi.

  29. Kenneth Skelly /

    December 6, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. You gave to a person who was hungry. God seems to be repaying you with a different coinage, the kind words and thoughts of your friends who recognize your act of kindness.

  30. David Allen /

    December 7, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Jodi want you did was right you have a heart of gold u so caring and giving never let them being u down my prayers are with u

  31. jayden /

    December 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm


  32. Michael A. Padgett /

    January 1, 2015 at 3:45 am

    Hi Jodi. It’s Michael Padgett. I wanted to take a minute and wish you a happy new year. Your positive, ebullient, “bubbly” spirit always amazes and inspires me. DEO VINDICE.

  33. Sharon Marie /

    January 21, 2015 at 8:34 am

    I support you!

  34. JANE /

    January 25, 2015 at 10:42 pm


  35. Margaret Wilder /

    February 21, 2015 at 2:02 am

    Hi Jodi.
    Sometimes the good you do does you no good. Do good anyway.

  36. blue /

    March 5, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Hang in there girl! Heard the news on TV. I feel sorry for juror 17 they are going to crucify her! Reminded me of Jesus and Mary Magdalene when he told the crowd “thou that is without sin, throw the first stone.” Don’t get me wrong what you did was bad, but you are paying your dues. Hope judge has mercy and gives you 25.

  37. Shawn p. /

    March 10, 2015 at 3:57 am

    Hi Jodi.

    It is ridiculous how they persecuted you for a simple charitable deed.
    Im sure if it was one of them in need theyd have no trouble accepting it.
    At least in your heart you know you tried to do something good.
    Stay strong and know many people are praying and supporting you.
    ~ A friend in Canada~

  38. Joe Mendoza /

    March 12, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Hi beautiful,
    Don’t listen to all the haters because no matter what you say or do, haters will be haters. I really admire you for being such a strong woman under all this pressure.

    I’ve been around the world twice and I can honestly say that you are a very beautiful person both inside and out. I hope you come out sooner than later.

    Keep your head up …….. and throw me a smile 😉

  39. Animus /

    March 15, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    It seems from an outsider perspective that the postcard was NOT from a high ranking LDS person, yet rather a forger, based on the writing style alone. It seems like the real author is a mental case and wanted to seem ‘important’ and wrangled a title. It seems like there is more to the charitable food story, too.

  40. Gus Wittgenstein /

    March 20, 2015 at 2:15 am


    Hold your head up high, stay strong and don’t you worry about a thing. They can try to do whatever they want, but they will never break you or us.

  41. John Cjartramd /

    March 26, 2015 at 1:34 am

    Jody committed a serious crime in a moments passion. Seeing her, hearing her, is enough to know that there is more to Jody than just one act that I’m sure she regrets every day.

    There are so many people who love jody and I’m sure that that will be enough to free her one day.

    I love you Jody, keep your pretty head up.

  42. mayela anacleto /

    May 17, 2015 at 4:51 am

    How can see many people sing such praise for your jodi? Incredible. I can see the person that you really are. I hope you get help Jodi.

  43. Ronald Jones /

    June 9, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Hear my new poem about Jodi Arias: tindeck.com/listen/vmouw

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