Arizona’s ‘concentration camp’: why was Tent City kept open for 24 years?
In a show of defiance, the convicts yelled, “Hitler! Hitler!” in front of the television cameras. It was the 4th of February, 2009. In Arizona’s infamous jail, Tent City, more than 200 Latino men dressed in black and white striped uniforms and chained to one another were being marched into an outdoor section reserved only for “illegal immigrant” inmates. The chants were directed at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had just a few months earlier described this outdoor jail near downtown Phoenix – which he had built as part of his “tough-on-crime” strategy – as a “concentration camp” in a speech to political supporters at his local Italian-American club.
I was able to make it through.
The prison was also able to survive.
The facility, which peaked in the late 1990s, consisted of 82 Korean War-era military tents that could accommodate 1,700 convicts.
- It stayed open in spite of several lawsuits filed by wrongfully imprisoned former prisoners, growing public indignation, and harsh criticism from organizations such as Amnesty International, who decried the institution as inhumanely overcrowded and unsafe.
- However, like with Arpaio’s own legacy, Tent City’s existence is set to come to an end, leaving many local residents, civil rights organizations, and former convicts scratching their heads in bemusement as to how it managed to thrive for so long.
- Photograph courtesy of Ross D.
- When it first opened its doors in August 1993, it was intended to be a temporary solution to congestion in the other Maricopa County prisons.
- Over several months, detainees condemned for small offences slept under green fabric tents, on bunk beds set on big cement slabs on gravel, under the green cloth tents.
- Despite the fact that there was an interior air-conditioned room where inmates could wash and get ill respite from the heat, they were not permitted to spend the night in that facility.
- The sheriff explained that he picked pink to deter convicts from attempting to steal them.
However, in 2007, as the border state of Arizona became the primary entry point for more than half of all undocumented migrants and as worries of terrorism mounted, he shifted his focus, directing his ire towards illegal immigration rather than terrorism.
Clothes with stripes and pink underwear were common issue for employees at the factory.
He said that this was a low-cost method of spreading his anti-immigrant message to the general people.
For shock effect, Arpaio advertised this wing as a holding facility for “illegal aliens,” but in reality, it was a holding facility for anybody who was pending transfer to another law-enforcement agency.
“When we tried to communicate with them, they disregarded us.” He was sentenced to Tent City after being convicted of drunk driving.
Wind and rain were able to enter through holes in the tents, soaking the sleeping bags.
When Paul Penzone became sheriff, he immediately stated that the remaining vestiges of Tent City would be demolished in October.
Inmates were compelled to labor on chain gangs, which had been abandoned by the United States, with a few exceptions, in 1955, but were still in use in several parts of the world.
The rest of the inmates were required to labor within the jail, and some were part of a furlough program – which is still in force – that enabled them to go outside to work while returning to Tent City for the night.
It wasn’t long before the tents developed a terrible reputation, said to Tom Bearup, who served as chief executive officer of Arpaio’s organization from 1988 to 1997.
During one disturbance in 1996, Bearup witnessed detainees burn parts of the tents as a show of defiance against the authorities.
Since the beginning, I’ve maintained the following position: ‘Our men and women fight for our nation and live in tents, so why are you moaning when the condemned are doing their sentences in tents?’ According to Arpaio, speaking to the Guardian.
The blazing summer heat inside the Tent City jail caused the color of an inmate’s sandal to fade from pink to dark brown.
As one of Arpaio’s most vocal detractors, Michael Manning, a litigation attorney, claims that Tent City was overcrowded at times, creating a “horrendously hazardous situation.” “He got away with it because people were willing to overlook the bigotry that was ingrained in his speech,” Manning continues.
- Over the course of 15 years, Manning has been successful in more than a dozen claims involving maltreatment and wrongful deaths at Arpaio’s facilities in Maricopa County.
- Crenshaw died in 2003 as a result of difficulties that occurred while he was being imprisoned in another jail.
- The family turned down a $1 million settlement and instead chose to go to trial, where they were defeated.
- These include worries about understaffing, as expressed in a 2003 letter from the county’s risk-management department, which cautioned Arpaio that unless jail conditions improved, the county would be responsible for punitive penalties in future lawsuits brought by mistreated inmates.
Image courtesy of John Moore/Getty Images According to Mary Rose Wilcox, a former Democratic supervisor to the Maricopa County board, a five-member governmental body that oversees the sheriff’s budget for the past 21 years, “people were aware that what he was doing was inhumane, but my Republican colleagues were so afraid of the sheriff that they allowed him to get away with it.” The jail, on the other hand, stayed open.
- It was attended by presidential contenders, and it made international headlines when media teams from Japan and England came to cover the event.
- “It was hot in there,” recalls Kathryn Kobor, a 74-year-old lady who visited the jail in 2015.
- “You do the crime, you commit the sentence,” she adds, quoting Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s own slogan.
- As a result of his involvement in a series of expensive litigation throughout the campaign season, many Republicans turned against him during the campaign.
- Sheriff Paul Penzone took over for Arpaio in 2016, inheriting six prisons and an ailing law enforcement organization that had been placed under the supervision of a federal monitor following allegations of civil rights violations against Latinos.
- This was the first step in the process.
- Former Republican Attorney General Grant Woods, who served as chairman of a commission created by Penzone to investigate the prison, said there is no evidence that Tent City had helped reduce recidivism, as Arpaio claimed.
- At the time of writing, there are around 370 men and women detained in one compound of Tent City, according to estimates.
- Because they are participating in a unique program that permits them to leave their tents to work during the day, they will stay there until October.
- An empty tower guarded a collection of courtyards covered with gravel with a patchwork of cement slabs where some of the tents used to be, according to a recent visit in July.
- Arpaio was scheduled to be sentenced on October 5th, and he faced a maximum penalty of six months in jail for deliberately disobeying a federal court order.
According to Fox News, President Trump said, “I might do it straight soon, maybe as early as this week.” “I’m seriously considering it right now.” As a “wonderful American patriot,” Arpaio, he continued, “has contributed significantly to the battle against illegal immigration.” Immigrants like Valdez, on the other hand, would want to see the sheriff put behind bars.
” “I’d like to see him in a little tent under the sun, dressed in pink boxers, pink sandals, and a pink towel,” says the author. Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to participate in the conversation, and browse our Archive for more information.
What Is Tent City like in Maricopa County Jail?
A sentence to prison or imprisonment is never a pleasant experience. Tent City, located in Maricopa County, is well-known for its willingness to go to extremes. This infamous Maricopa County jail is notable for requiring its inmates to wear pink underwear, eat vegetarian meals, and spend their sentences outside in the scorching Arizona heat, among other things. What is it like to live in Tent City? Each response, whether from firsthand tales or from journalistic sources, demonstrates that Tent City is a terrible environment to find yourself in.
- What to Expect When You Arrive Tent City is a place where people may live in tents.
- For more than 2,000 convicts, Tent City is an open-air penitentiary constructed entirely of recycled military tents in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler.
- Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” came up with the idea for the housing conditions, vegetarian food, and uniforms, all of which were implemented.
- The detainees are required to wear pink underwear, if necessary.
- Because of these circumstances, which many activists and legal organizations view to be terribly cruel, the institution has found itself on the losing end of a number of judicial fights.
- Many people say that Tent City is one of the worst prisons in the United States.
- If you have been sentenced to serve time in Tent City for a DUI or other criminal offense, the following are the most important things to remember:
- If you are going to jail, do not go without eating something beforehand. When you leave and return to Tent City, you will be detained in a holding cell for approximately 24 hours. Despite the fact that you have no influence over your hunger levels upon leaving, you may ensure that you are properly nourished upon arriving. Dress with layers. Despite the fact that the prison has a reputation for being a deathtrap in the summer heat. It is possible that nights will be particularly chilly in the desert due to the intense heat, so dress in layers that you can add or remove as required. Prepare for the things you have no control over. The meal is very disgusting. You should not expect to discover cooperative convicts. They are as sad as you will be as a result of the dreadful circumstances. Maintain your composure and courtesy toward the cops, and keep your attention concentrated on completing your sentence and getting out of there. Ensure that you have a book to keep your mind occupied. Make sure you have all of the necessary documentation, especially if you have been given work release. Incorrect documentation may direct you to the incorrect section of Tent City. Rest certain that Tent City is not a pleasant place to be, but if you have been given Work Release, you would prefer to be in the Work Release sector of Tent City. Forms that are not properly completed only complicate and damage your experience at Tent City.
Of course, the best way to avoid any of these situations is to deal with an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney who will do all in their power to keep you out of Tent City. We, at Tyler Allen Law Firm, are fully prepared to carry out your instructions. For further information, please visit contact us online or call 602-456-0445. In the majority of instances, we charge flat costs and provide a free consultation.
Last Inmates Leave Tent City, a Remnant of Joe Arpaio (Published 2017)
Tent City, an outdoor Arizona jail that served as an icon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “tough on crime” stance, has been shuttered after 24 years in operation. It was formally closed down on Saturday after the last of the approximately 370 detainees were relocated to another correctional facility. Because the detainees had not been moved since May, the process was a little more complicated. The closure, which is a cornerstone of the current Maricopa County sheriff’s plan, further erodes the memory of Mr.
- In a statement on Wednesday, Mr.
- “They’ve all been convicted and are serving their sentences.” “To this day, people come up to me and express gratitude – parents who are upset about their children having to go to the tents, and they straighten out,” he continued.
- Arpaio’s tactics, which included issuing most inmates pink underwear to wear underneath their jumpsuits, prohibiting the distribution of pornographic magazines, and broadcasting cooking shows in the cafeteria while inmates ate two meatless meals a day.
- Image courtesy of Associated Press photographer Angie Wang.
- Arpaio, one of the major difficulties was that it was 120 to 130 degrees outside.
- “We had a plethora of various programs.” Gangs in a chain.
- “It’s the first of its kind in the world.” Women of color in Arpaio’s jails were disproportionately abused, according to Brian Tashman, a political researcher and strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union, who wrote in August about the situation.
Tashman cited a Justice Department report that stated Latina detainees were “denied basic sanitary items,” were “forced to remain with sheets or pants soiled from menstruation,” or were placed in “solitary confinement for extended periods of time because of their inability to understand and thus follow a command given in English.” Mr.
- “This institution does not serve as a crime deterrence,” Sheriff Penzone stated at the time at a press conference.
- Criminals aren’t treated very harshly in our country.
- However, for the general public, this facility has evolved into more of a circus feel.
- He stated that closing it down is likely to save the county, which includes Phoenix, between $4 million and $4.5 million per year in operating expenses.
- As he put it on Wednesday, “It doesn’t matter whether it costs money.” “It has proven to be a significant deterrent.
It had a high population of 1,700 convicts, but has been down to 700 to 800 inmates over the last several years.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office planned to reveal the next steps in the investigation of the site on Friday.
Penzone both stated that convicts preferred Tent City over ordinary jails.
Woods described it, the committee found out that convicts wanted to keep the jail open because they preferred to spend the most of their time outside rather than being locked up in a cell for the majority of the day.
Woods stated that “if the convicts voted, I’m telling you, it would be in the high 90 percentile or perhaps 100 percent,” and that “they would prefer it to stay open, which is precisely the antithesis of the picture that’s been projected.” Mr.
He mentioned that four presidential contenders, including Bob Dole and John McCain, paid him a visit at the institution. “If it’s that horrible, why would everyone running for president want to come to the tents and visit me?” he questioned rhetorically.
The majority of my life has been spent in Arizona. I was born in Mexico, grew up in Tijuana, and migrated to Arizona when I was 14. It was in a tiny town named Holbrook that I attended to high school, and then it was on to Phoenix to attend Arizona State University. Joe Arpaio’s brutal anti-Latino policies had already exacerbated racial tensions in Maricopa County, where he served as sheriff at the time, which was about 2012 at the time. When I was growing up, Arpaio was well-known in my neighborhood for his “sweeps.” He would dispatch police officers into restaurants, hotels, and other places where he believed illegal workers could be present, and he would arrest individuals who were unable to provide identification.
- I was there to witness all of Arpaio’s crusades firsthand.
- Every day, I would serve as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking individuals who had been detained by Arpaio in the Arizona desert while attempting to enter the United States in order to find work.
- Thus, if they attempted to reenter the United States, they would be sentenced to federal jail time in the process.
- The county took a whole year to bring a criminal prosecution against me after I was detained.
- When I handed myself in to go to jail, they whisked me away to the Fourth Avenue jail, which serves as the county’s central detention facility for all arrests.
- There were no clothes allowed to be worn underneath the striped outfit I had been issued, and the only things I was allowed to wear were underpants and flip-flops.
- I sat for hours on the hard concrete, only to be escorted away and transferred to another cell, and then another.
Opinion: President Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio is deplorable.
(Photo courtesy of Gillian Brockell and Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post.) I arrived to one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s multiple “tent cities,” which are outdoor jails where detainees live in army tents, most of whom are exposed to the harsh Arizona weather.
Every day after work, I’d return to the jail and spend the night in one of the prison’s tented accommodations.
There were rigorous, arbitrary, and ruthless regulations to follow in the tent city, and they were enforced harshly.
There was no food available for those of us participating in the work furlough program except for the food available in the vending machines, which was outrageously costly.
When we reached 120 degrees, I was in the tents.
Everyone would take off their clothes down to their undergarments.
Some people were dizzy, while others were suffering from heatstroke.
One man died peacefully in his bed.
There were no heaters in the building throughout the winter.
When the temperatures fell, we were obliged to come up with improvised methods of keeping ourselves warm to survive.
We didn’t like taking showers, but when it was frigid outside, we would fill our empty water bottles with practically boiling water and place the bottles under our covers.
Nonetheless, it was bitterly cold, numbingly cold.
Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, was pardoned by President Donald Trump on August 25.
Submitted by Patrick Martin and Victoria Walker for The Washington Post.
Full detention required the wearing of pink socks, underpants, and flip-flops by those who were sent to it.
The choice of “slob,” which was an unknown, terrible item that looked like some type of thick stew and tasted like cardboard, was also available to them.
On Friday, I was outraged, dejected, and disillusioned in the United States political system after learning that President Trump had chosen to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
What an irony that an immigrant who did a little criminal act must live with a conviction on his record for the rest of his life, while a serial criminal like Arpaio gets to walk away unharmed from acts that are far more serious in nature and scope.
Moreover, in a single second, Trump has annihilated all of that hard work and all of those voices in opposition.
Arpaio’s pardon serves as evidence of this.
The fact that Arpaio has been pardoned is a nightmare come true.
Because of my faith in a better future, I was able to endure the terrible time I spent in those dreadful institutions, and I have faith that hope will lead us to a better future for all of America.
Arpaio’s Infamous Tent City is Gone but Arizona State Prison’s Tent City Remains
Matthew Clarke’s article, published in Prison Legal News on August 6, 2018, page 38, was loaded on August 6, 2018. Almost immediately after taking office as sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, Paul Penzone began a phase-out of the infamous Tent City jail, which had been built by his predecessor, Joe Arpaio, who had been found guilty of criminal contempt by a federal court in July 2017 but had been pardoned by President Donald Trump. However, another Tent City, this one located within the Arizona State Prison (ASP) facility in Florence, continues to be in operation as of October 7, 2017.
The jail was built in August 1993 for an estimated $80,000 and opened in August 1993.
In his statement, Penzone argued that the facility “is not a crime deterrence, is not cost-effective, and is not tough on offenders.” Tent City, also known as the North Unit of the ASP, is a contentious facility since it exposes up to 400 minimum-security convicts to severe heat due to the fact that the canvas tents are without windows and painted white.
- Insect and vermin infestations, as well as water ingress, have been reported by the convicts.
- When we arrived, the detainees informed us that the tents flooded whenever it rained during the monsoon.
- Numerous medications used to treat mental illness have been shown to impair the body’s capacity to regulate heat, putting those who take them at greater risk of heat-related accidents.
- In 2009, Marcia Powell, an Arizona state prisoner, was imprisoned in an outside cage on a 107-degree day in the desert.
- She had virtually roasted herself to death by this point.
- She had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was receiving anti-psychotic and mood-stabilizing medications, which rendered her more sensitive to the effects of extreme heat and humidity.
- However, when asked whether they restrict the amount of time a prisoner may be locked in an outdoor cage, whether there are limits to the amount of heat that prisoners may be exposed to, or even whether they had a formal heat plan, prison officials were unsure of their position.
- In what way can Arizona maintain its legal right to house inmates in suffocating tents?
- Caroline Isaacs, of the American Friends Service Committee’s Tucson office, adding that long-term tent living is “just not acceptable” even in the best of conditions.
Despite this, the practice continues. Sources: As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you will have access to the full text of this article as well as downloads for additional premium material. Today is the day to subscribe. Already a member of the club? Login
AFTER 24 YEARS, TENT CITY IS OFFICIALLY CLOSING
Paul Penzone, the recently elected sheriff of Maricopa County, is making significant strides in the state of Arizona. In 1993, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio opened the doors to Tent City, which has now been closed for good by Penzone Enterprises, Inc. Originally, the open-air cage served as a holding facility for inmates awaiting transfer to other facilities. In the end, though, it was swiftly reduced to a sideshow, with new stunts appearing each year. On this seven-acre stretch of tents, which could accommodate up to 1,700 convicts at a time, inmates were obliged to wear conventional black-and-white striped prison uniforms and pink underwear, and they were provided two vegetarian meals each day.
- Temperatures inside the tent might reach up to 125 degrees due to the location in the Arizona desert, where temperatures may reach as high as 110 degrees everyday.
- For some time, Penzone speculated, “the image of the tents as a deterrent to recidivism and as a symbol of being tough on crime may have been accurate.” “It is merely a myth now,” says the author.
- It has only been effective as a diversionary strategy.
- According to Penzone himself, a large number of detainees wanted to be transferred to Tent City voluntarily because they loved the outdoors.
- It became evident to the new sheriff that the outdoor jail must be closed when he learned that shutting it would save the county around $4.5 million per year, regardless of conflicting viewpoints on the subject.
- Approximately half of Tent City’s existing convicts will be relocated over the next 45 to 60 days, and the institution will be closed altogether within six months, according to Penzone’s schedule.
- An overwhelming majority of those detainees had also been convicted of DUI offenses.
- Penzone, on the other hand, is of the opposite opinion.
As a result, we’re going to provide our taxpayers with what they really want: an institution that operates effectively.” As power movements continue on the local and national levels, only time will tell how these significant adjustments will affect Arizona and its citizens in the long run.
Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio Wants to Bring Back His Brutal Tent City
Criminal who has been convicted Joe Arpaio wants to revive the “tent city” in Maricopa County, which was photographed on May 3, 2010, in Phoenix. Photograph by Paul J. Richards/Getty Images He wants to reclaim his position as one of the most notoriously bigoted sheriffs in modern American history. In a statement released on Sunday, Joe Arpaio, who spent six terms as sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County before being ousted from the role in 2016, stated that he will seek reelection to the position in 2020.
In order to prevent Arpaio from being jailed, President Donald Trump granted him a controversial pardon.
For many white supremacists, Trump’s decision to grant clemency was a powerful signal of Trump’s making common cause with them, as Mark Joseph Stern noted at the time of Trump’s consideration of the pardon: Sheriff Joe Arpaio publicly worked to impose white nationalism in Maricopa County throughout his 24-year term as sheriff, which included a savage crackdown on the county’s Latino population.
- Arpaio has been found to have violated the United States Constitution on several occasions, but the sheriff has consistently refused to heed the court’s orders to rein him in.
- Following his pardon, Arpaio campaigned in the 2018 Republican Senate race in Arizona to try to replace Jeff Flake, who had stepped down from his position.
- When Arpaio made his official campaign announcement on Sunday, he pledged to bring back one of his most inhumane programs, threatening to reinstate the notorious “tent city” jail.
- Most terrifying of Arpaio’s practices, including as the widespread use of outdoor tent towns to hold migrants, have been mainstreamed by the Trump administration since his election in November 2016.
Eighteen years before New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was embroiled in controversy after claiming that President Donald Trump’s tent detention facilities for migrants were “concentration camps,” Arpaio boasted that his own tent city jail facility for “illegals” was a “concentration camp” in effect.
- According to reports, the temperature inside the tents might exceed 145 degrees.
- He claimed to be looking into President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and he stated as late as last year that there was “no question” it was a “fake” certificate.
- The county prisons of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston combined were sued more than five times as frequently as his jail was sued between 2004 and 2008 (see chart below).
- Because of the violence of individuals in his office, the families of detainees who died as a result of his administration’s actions received multimillion-dollar judgments.
The cost of Arpaio’s war on the Hispanic population of Maricopa County has been enormous: tens of millions of dollars in court settlements and legal fees, as well as the failure to bring hundreds of sexual assault cases, including at least 32 cases of child abuse, to a conclusion while the war was still going on.
- Meanwhile, at least seven children have died in immigration detention in the last year, following a ten-year stretch in which no such deaths happened.
- Although federal employees do not brag about their working circumstances in the same way that Arpaio did, President Donald Trump has professed respect for the sheriff’s attitude.
- However, even with the support of President Barack Obama, Arpaio will have a difficult time regaining control of the position.
- Although it is uncertain if Arpaio will receive a presidential endorsement, his demeaning methods have undoubtedly served as an inspiration to the president and the rest of his cabinet.
When Arpaio publicly backed Trump’s presidential candidacy in January 2016, he stated, “Everything I believe in, he’s doing, and he’s going to do it when he becomes president,” he put it best.
In Arizona, prisoners live in a tent city and are forced to do hard labor.
A large number of homeless persons in San Francisco take refuge on street corners, wrapped in sleeping bags or protected by the thin canvas of tents. Across the Bay Area and across the country, tent cities are springing up as a response to an economy that has abandoned the poor and the homeless. To address the dilemma rather than providing people with homes and a break from the uncomfortable and unlivable conditions on the streets, the city has responded with ruthless encampment sweeps, expensive fines and jail, making the situation practically intractable.
- It was the idea of former Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was infamous for his innovative and severe punishments and who himself compared the Tent City prison camp to a concentration camp.
- Tent City distributes pink panties and towels to its inmates in an attempt to humiliate them; these items have become synonymous with the camp.
- They are sentenced to Tent City as punishment for a variety of nonviolent offences, including public drunkenness, drug possession, and auto theft, many of which are connected to a lack of access to mental health care, housing, or rehabilitation services (read: poverty).
- In reality, Arapaio once led a forced march of 200 immigrants from a detention center to Tent City as part of a PR ploy that was also intended to humiliate the immigrants.
- In recent years, society has come to terms with the notion that certain human beings should be forced to live outside in unpleasant conditions and without basic dignity, such as access to restrooms or comfortable undergarments.
- Our neighbors losing their homes, being taken away by ICE officers, or being sentenced to time in horrible jails is something we cannot stand by and do nothing about it.
- The fact that the criminal justice system has been compelled to accept that tents are not a suitable kind of accommodation for prisoners is a reminder that we must continue to fight toward a San Francisco where homeless people are treated with dignity and respect, just as everyone else.
Why Two Decades of Tent City Is Enough
— – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Located in Phoenix, Arizona, Tent City is an open-air jail where more than 2,000 offenders are held in military tents that have been converted. The detainees, who are under the command of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, are dressed in cartoonish black and white striped uniforms with matching pink undergarments. With temperatures reaching 125 degrees in the summer, the hot prison serves as a focal point of the Arpaio mythology, and it will commemorate its 20th anniversary this August.
- “Tent city is without a doubt the finest concept that ANY sheriff, anywhere, has ever thought of.
- “According to a commenter on a recent Facebook photo of the facility’s outside.
- Tours of the jail are available on a regular basis (business casual attire is recommended, according to the website), and the sheriff commemorates the facility’s 10th anniversary every year.
- For example, the pink underwear is purportedly chosen because it is less likely to be stolen by fleeing convicts than the other colors.
- In addition, there’s the food, which is worth between 15 and 40 cents every meal.
- Arpaio claims that it is the most cost-effective jail in the country.
- For example, during a heat wave in July 2003, the temperature inside the tents reached 138 degrees, prompting the sheriff to let those detained to strip down to their pink underwear.
The heat, on the other hand, does not bother Arpaio, who has frequently mentioned the conditions that military soldiers are forced to undergo in their lines of duty.
“They didn’t commit any crimes, so shut your lips,” Arpaio reportedly stated.
The institution is a correctional facility.
“Dangerous or predatory persons are not placed there,” according to Maricopa County officials.
According to the law, jails are not supposed to be punishing, yet Tent City plainly portrays itself as such.
In an email to Fusion published in October 2012, Arpaio confirmed his present position.
“Punishment is only applicable after a conviction.” However, much about Tent City creates the idea that it is a place of retribution and punishment.
Several guards used racial insults and punished detainees who couldn’t communicate in English, according to a 2011 investigation by the Department of Justice, which found “a widespread culture of discriminatory hostility against Latinos” in Maricopa facilities.
Earlier this year, a federal judge decided that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had engaged in systematic racial profiling against Latinos, and the sheriff was ordered to refrain from utilizing Hispanic ancestry in law enforcement decisions going forward.
However, as you examine the situation more closely, the issue becomes more apparent.
The fact is that Tent City in particular is a jail, and you may be there because you were wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit.
Making a facility like that into your own personal “concentration camp,” as Arpaio has done (in his words), is more about self-promotion than it is about anything having to do with criminal justice or law enforcement.
“I think I could be elected in my pink panties,” the sheriff declared. “I’ve done it at least five times now.”
Tent City, infamous home of inmates who wear pink underwear and major piece of Arpaio’s legacy, is closing
Tent City, Maricopa County’s open-air jail renowned for housing convicts wearing pink underwear in the searing summer heat, will shut down, according to Sheriff Paul Penzone. Penzone made the announcement Tuesday based on the recommendation of an advisory committee that he appointed after taking office in January. The tents served as a visible emblem of Penzone’s predecessor, Joe Arpaio, who established the facility in 1993, his first year in office, and held it up as an affordable solution to overcrowded jails.
At an afternoon press conference Tuesday, Penzone said Tent City has become the preferred location for inmates and a liability for understaffed detention officers.
Anticipating potential criticism regarding the transfer, Penzone informed the community there is plenty of capacity at the county’s other correctional sites “This facility is not a crime deterrent, it is not cost efficient, and it is not tough on criminals,” he said, adding that the facility had become more of a “circus” atmosphere for the general public.
Roughly 50 percent of the Tent City convicts — there are about 800 of them -will be transported to other prisons in the next 45 to 60 days, while those on work furlough may take up to six months.
Part of Arpaio’s ‘tough on crime’ image
Tent City has mostly served as a political pawn for its founder in recent years, as jail numbers have declined across the country. As a testimony to his “tough on crime” reputation, Arpaio, who was initially elected in 1992 and remained sheriff until being ousted by Penzone in 2006, pointed to the facility as a source of pride. Last year, he refused to contemplate shutting the facility at the price of detention officer salaries. Tent City was scheduled to cost around $8.6 million over the course of the current fiscal year, however recent inmate counts indicate that the institution is almost completely devoid of inmates.
Another 400 people were sleeping in the tents, but they were on labor furlough, which means they were allowed to go out and about in the town for 12 hours a day.
Penzone believes that “the cost efficiency of the jail has undoubtedly reduced” since it was established, but that “it will be a data-driven choice” when the decision is made.
According to Woods’s tweet, “after months of research, we are prepared to present our suggestions to the Sheriff about Tent City.” Tent City was established to provide real public safety services, and Woods stated earlier that the committee’s aim was to examine whether the organization was a worthwhile use of government funds.
Woods stated during the news conference that most detainees preferred the open space of Tent City to their indoor equivalents, which contradicts the claims of civil-rights campaigners who had alleged for years that circumstances at the detention facility were exceptionally harsh.
Inmates had the option of being housed inside or outside.
However, he said, “I think the days of Arizona being a place where individuals are humiliated or shamed, bullied or ridiculed for the self-aggrandization of anybody or anything are over.” ‘They don’t belong in our community, they don’t represent our community, and we’re ready to move on from them.’
Decision to close jail unanimous
A diverse range of community-service expertise is represented among the board’s members, including Dr. Ann Hart, president of the Maricopa County NAACP; Will Humble, a public-health expert from Arizona; and Lydia Guzman, a civil rights activist for Latinos and a longtime critic of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The decision to shutter Tent City was made unanimously by the members of the board of directors. Following the announcement by Penzone in mid-February that he would no longer respect “courtesy” immigration holds for the federal government in his jails, Tuesday’s suggestion represents the most dramatic break from Arpaio-era regulations since then.
- The county has already spent over $56 million on a racial profiling case that is still underway.
- He vowed to shift away from making decisions based on political considerations and instead prioritize public safety and budgetary prudence.
- The prison solely accommodates convicted convicts, the majority of whom are DUI offenders, rather than those who are being detained for trial.
- The open-air prison exposes offenders to all of the elements of the Phoenix desert, including the blazing 110-degree temperatures that may be experienced during the summer months.
Arpaio said he respects Penzone’s decision
Upon being contacted for comment following the news conference, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio stated that he would accept Penzone’s decision. “That is entirely up to him, don’t you think? It’s not my fault. I’m not going to second-guess him on this one, either “he explained. “If I were still the sheriff, those tents would never be removed off the property.” “Tent City” was a “wonderful initiative” when Arpaio established it 24 years ago, according to the sheriff, who claims that it has saved “millions and millions of dollars.” During the 2016 campaign, Arpaio referred to leftist billionaire George Soros as having “gotten his wish,” alluding to the liberal billionaire who sponsored anti-Arpaio advertisements.
“When he spent almost $5 million to remove me from office, he stated that he wanted Tent City to be closed.
Approximately 50 people turned out for the event, expressing their support for Penzone’s decision and pushing him to continue reforming the county prisons.
“This is a win for the entire community.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials who inspect detainees during the booking process at the Fourth Avenue Jail in New York City.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
Bernal described the jail as “inhumane,” and she expressed relief that it soon be closed.
“It was a terrifying experience that I would never wish on anyone,” Bernal admitted.
Reporter Eric Newman from the Arizona Republic contributed to this article.