Apache Junction, AZ High 78 Low 54
I’m sure many of you are familiar with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The media has named him “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Before Joe became Sheriff of Maricopa County in 1993, he was a police officer in Washington, DC and Las Vegas.
In August, 1993, he started the nation’s largest Tent City for convicted inmates. Did you know you can tour parts of Tent City? You can and that is what we did this morning.
Dianna, Nikki, Ellie and I showed up for our 11:00 tour about 10:30. Since we were early, we stopped in to check out the stuff they sell. All proceeds go to the Youth Assistance Foundation.
Out in the parking lot was this impressive looking tank.
We checked in and waited in the waiting area for our tour guide.
Off we go.
Sheriff Joe has implemented lots of tough policies. He has banned smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines and serves the cheapest meals in the U.S. Inmates only get fed twice a day to cut the labor costs of meal delivery. Many of you will be happy to know that the inmates are served a vegetarian diet. No meat is served. It’s not for health reasons but because of the cost savings. They also don’t get salt and pepper which saves taxpayers $20,000 a year.
The inmates do not get to see their visitors through the plexiglass and use the phone anymore. They have to use these video phones. This has cut way down on the contraband brought into the prison.
The windows on the right used to be the plexiglass ones.
He has also organized chain gangs which clean streets, paint over graffiti and bury the indigent in the country cemetery. One of the things the media fails to tell you is that this is a voluntary program offered to inmates who have gotten themselves in trouble and have done their time in solitary.
These are some of the examples of contraband they have found.
This is an AA book that has been modified.
A homemade tattoo tool.
This was a frame thingie made out of candy wrappers. It was taken from the inmate because it was hanging from their bunk and that is against the rules.
Lots of people criticize Sheriff Joe’s Tent City because of the hot desert summers. What the media fails to tell you is that the inmates have 24 hour access to the air conditioned day use room.
The day room had lots of inmates and we were requested not to take any pictures of the inmates themselves. These are the lockers they are assigned when they come into the room if they want to take a shower and change clothes. The only time they can be nude is in the shower. Otherwise they have to at least have their boxers on.
This is their only TV. They are allowed to watch three stations – C-Span, the Food Network, and the Weather Channel. That’s it.
After visiting the Day Use area we headed out to the actual tent area.
One of the most famous programs Arpaio is known for is the pink underwear he makes all inmates wear. When inmates are processed into the jail their clothes are put directly into a big garbage bag. Many of them aren’t clean. So inmates were stealing the jail’s white boxers. Joe decided that red dye was the cheapest and had the underwear dyed pink for better inventory control. Once again it was to save the taxpayer’s money not to emasculate the inmates.
Sorry these are so blurry.
These are the actual tents, however, the prison population is down and this area was not being used currently.
They have a big fan in each tent which holds either 22 or 44 inmates.
It was a very interesting and informative tour and I’m really glad Dianna invited me to go with them.
Leaving the prison we saw all this smoke. On the news tonight they said it was a plumbing business that was completely destroyed. We had to take a detour off I-10 to get around the fire.
After the tour we met up with Connie (another retired IRS’er from Montana) at the Gecko Grill. It was really good.