Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tent City Jail

This image shows an example of what the Lower Buckeye Tent City camps actually look like. Showed int the image are inmates sleeping in bunks under the shade of the surplus tents over a slab of concrete.
This image shows Sheriff Joe Arpaio standing in front of his famous Vacancy sign for the Maricopa County Jails that indicates the schedule and rules for the jail each day.

The Tent City Jail in Phoenix, AZ, Maricopa County has been the topic of worldwide publicity and critique because of the methods used by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio has been the target for hundreds of protests, letter writing campaigns, impeachment attempts, and even assassination attempts. He is quite popular with the old and more conservative crowd in Maricopa County because of his no nonsense, low tolerance policies and practices. In 2000 Arpaio was re-elected with 90% approval rating from the Maricopa County voters (Economist, 2). Since then Arpaio has met quite a bit of criticism and opposition from civil rights groups and immigration reform supporters and his approval ratings are nearing that of the 60% range. The Tent City Jail is an outdoor detention center that houses all levels of criminals from DUI offenders to violent men and women. The detainees are put in pink boxer shorts and socks for underwear, and are handcuffed with neon pink bracelets, which has stirred up a number of complaints and grievances among inmates who feel he is degrading them on a personal level.

At times the temperatures in the Arizona Desert can real nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the inmates are meant to carry on their duties as normal, and can be relieved by the shade of the tents, but not much else. Arpaio has spoken out about his personal feelings of crime and punishment, which has garnered a lot of attention for himself by Justice and Peace activists, and scholars around the world. No matter the political identification of his supporters or protestors, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Arpaio’s Tent City is an extremely important piece of Maricopa County. It has garnered the attention of the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and other civil rights groups that feel as though the inmates are put in dangerous living situations as well as being denied basic human rights and dignities. Having been sued by over a thousand former inmates for alleged wrongdoing Arpaio still holds his elected position as the Sheriff of Maricopa County and constantly reminds the public that there is always more room in the desert.

- Bill Harden, Allie Desrochers, and Jake Powell


"The Notorious Record of Maricopa County, AZ’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio." America's Voice Online. July 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2011.

Arpaio, Joe, and Len Sherman. Joe's Law, America's Toughest Sheriff Takes On Illegal Immigration, Drugs, And Everything Else That Threatens America. Amacom Books, 2009. Print.

“Joe Arpaio, Tyrant of the Desert.” Economist 352.8130 (1999): 28. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

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