PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been doing his roundups of so-called dead beat dads and moms for 20 years now. This past year alone the Sheriff's Office served 8,000 warrants. One of those warrants belonged to a mother in jail who says the Sheriff should not judge these parents until he knows their full story.
"It's very degrading, it's very disgusting," said Sharee DeLeon.
On February 13, Arpaio was conducting his annual Operation Deadbeat, a round-up of so-called deadbeat fathers and mothers. One of the people on his list was Sharee DeLeon.
"You have no right to judge in my perspective, yeah I might owe that $2,000 but you have no idea what comes behind that," said DeLeon.
The mother of three hadn't heard of the program until she saw her photo on one of the billboards that exposes these parents on social media. Once she found out she turned herself in on February 16, and has been in jail ever since.
"I've done nothing wrong, the only crime I've committed is to fight for my daughter and my kids and never give up," said DeLeon.
DeLeon has been in a custody battle for one of her children for five years now. She's had to pay the father child support, and was current until May of 2015. She stopped paying when she lost her job and her home, while still providing for her other two children.
"It has been very hard to be financially stable, and to keep a job, and to have housing a car and everything, I need to provide for all of them," said Deleon.
She now owes nearly $10,000 and $2,000 of that is needed to get out of jail. She says once again she has lost her job and the cycle will repeat and once again she will be unable to pay.
"I am supposed to be financially responsible for her whether she's in my home or she's not I am, I'm her mom I'm supposed to provide and help her, but when you have a parent who doesn't want to co-parent, it doesn't work," said DeLeon.
As it stands DeLeonwill not be allowed until her $2,000 debt is paid.