Tougher on Criminals: Tent City Jail
Karen R. Ortiz
West Coast University
Joe Arpaio is known as the toughest sheriff in the west. He gets this name for the way he is tough on criminals in Maricopa Arizona. Being tougher on criminals when they go to jail may save the life of the criminal and its victim. 1993 Sheriff Joe Arpaio designed a camp that would be placed in the middle of the Arizona dessert, but it wasn’t an ordinary jail it was called Tent City Jail.
Joe’s parents were legal immigrants from Naples they came through Ellis Island where his mother had given birth to him but died while doing so. His father owned a grocery store in Springfield, Massachusetts where Joe had worked and was raised by friends and family. Joe always wanted to be a police officer, he joined the Army and then became a patrolman in Washington D.C. Joe was a narcotics agent in Turkey and in Mexico and later retired in Arizona. Joe ran for sheriff in Arizona and won thus beginning his new career. Joe is a sheriff elected by the people in Maricopa County and is on his on his fifth four-year term.
The main job of sheriff is to run the jails and at the time the county needed a new facility for the over population of the old jail or they would have to let some prisoners go free. The county had declined the financing for the new jail and that did not sit well with Joe Arpaio. Joe said that while he is sheriff no criminal will be released before they do their full stint in jail. He went got a consignment of Army surplus tents and surrounded it with barbed wire.
Tent City Jail looks like a military camp in the dessert with thick canvas sleep quarters spreading out in the remote area of Arizona (Hill, 1999). Arpaio put up more
tents, until Tent City Jail held twenty-five hundred inmates, and stuck a neon “VACANCY” sign on a guard tower (Finnegan, 2009). Joe has four thousand employees three thousand volunteer posse members, an overworked media-relations unit of five (Finnegan, 2009).
The Jail saves Maricopa county thousands each year due to the Joe Arpaio. The prisoners all wear black and white striped uniforms pink socks, pink flip flops and pink underwear for uniformity, he doesn't want them to fight over who has what. Why pink? Joe mock-sincerely, is a soothing color. Prisoners are newly vegetarians because Joe Arpaio found that he could save one hundred and fifty dollars a year just by removing the meat from the facility. The prisoners would complain that after eating their stomachs were upset, so it’s a win win situation. Joe also banned cigarettes, movies, coffee, hot lunches, salt and pepper from the jail. get a hot morning chow, sandwich for lunch, and then a hot chow for dinner. Arpaio estimated that it saved taxpayers thirty thousand dollars a year by removing salt and pepper alone(Finnegan, 2009).
Criminals should not get to sit around watch TV, and get on the telephone. They are their because they have done something bad. Why should we treat our criminals better then we treat the homeless in homeless shelters. Why do they feel they have rights when the criminal took the right for people in the city to feel safe.
There is also a chain gang and the first in the world woman's chain gang. One of the chain gangs tasks is burying the indigent at the county cemetery. “I put them out on the main streets so everybody sees them out there cleaning up trash and parents say to their kids, Look thats where you’re going if you’re not good” (Finnegan, 2009).
Many famous people have also been in attendance at the Tent City Jail. Mike Tyson a boxer and Charles Barkley a basketball player have all spent time in the tents as prisoners.
The jail offers tours to the public, the guards will take up two 5 people at a time twice daily. People come all over the world to see what it’s like at the prison, snowbirds especially (Mak, 2014).
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