Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey used to be the owners of the Village Voice, a company that owns a number of independent newspapers across the nation. They got their start with the Phoenix New Times and expanded from there. They were living and working in the greater Phoenix area when both were suddenly arrested and put in jails in 2007.
The person who was responsible for this was Joe Arpaio who was sheriff at the time. He committed many atrocities while he was the sheriff of Maricopa County with the wrongful imprisonment of these two journalists being just one of the bad things he committed.
They had been arrested and charged for having details about a grand jury investigation in articles in the Phoenix New Times. At the time Michael Lacey was the executive editor of this newspaper while Jim Larkin was the chief executive officer.
Unbeknownst to them the grand jury had been investigating them. Joe Arpaio had never liked that the Phoenix New Times often had articles detailing how he had a policy of very aggressive law enforcement tactics since he had become sheriff in 1992. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427818/Michael_Lacey and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/michael-lacey/
Multiple times while serving as sheriff Joe Arpaio had been informed what was legally permissible and what things were not. He often ignored the law and did pretty much what he wanted.
He would often have immigrants detained, for instance, just because he suspected they were in the United States illegally. He was told that was unconstitutional but he kept it up anyway. He would also put inmates in an outdoor Tent City where they would suffer under extreme heat with not enough food or water. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/relevant-links/
When the two journalists were released, without charges, they sued the county for violating their first amendment rights. They eventually won a judgment of over $4.8 million.
This money was used to set up the Frontera Fund which provides money to Hispanic nonprofits in Arizona. Hispanics were a big target for Arpaio and continue to face a lot of discrimination in Arizona.
Jim Larkin was born and raised in Phoenix. After graduating from high school he became a student at Arizona State University. He soon dropped out but he stayed active on campus. In 1972 he joined Michael Lacey and others in launching a new free campus newspaper, the Phoenix New Times.
The newspaper was 100% supported by advertising and as an alternative newspaper they reported on the news that the mainstream media in that city refused to cover.
Michael Lacey grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and had a father who worked in the trades. He decided to attend Arizona State University and so moved most of the way across the nation.
He also dropped out of this university, in 1970, before launching New Phoenix Times. They started expanding their business in 1983 when they bought an alternative newspaper in Denver, Colorado, called Westword. They eventually built their company, Village Voice, into a national brand with newspapers from Los Angeles, California, to New York, New York.