Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pink Underwear Tour

Apache Junction, AZ  High 78  Low 54

JoeI’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.

P1070811Sheriff 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.

P1070842Leaving 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.



  1. I think this country needs a few more sheriffs like that!

  2. Maybe they should sell pink underwear in the gift shop? Fascinating tour, Sandie!

    1. They used to sell them for fundraisers for different programs. I have a pink T shirt.

  3. I don't think I could have eaten after that tour.

  4. I agree. I think more prisons should be run this way.

  5. I guess they left out the part where "taxpayers in metropolitan Phoenix are expected to pay out an estimated $21 million over the next year and a half for changes ordered in response to a court ruling that found Sheriff Joe's office racially profiled Latinos in its regular traffic and immigration patrols."

    Joe Arpaio, in my humble opinion, is just another garden variety bigot and racist who likes to bully minorities. Soon, in Arizona, he and his fellow bigots will be the minority and all his supporters will probably be clamoring for civil rights they denied others while in the majority.

    Joe Arpaio is nothing more than a thug!

  6. Thanks for the interesting tour.

  7. What an excellent tour and how very interesting. I don't see anything that the people could criticize him for. The pink underwear cracks me up but a great idea.

  8. You are right in that there are a lot of things the media doesn't tell you about Sheriff Joe. You and I have talked about this in the past. What an interesting tour regardless of how folks feel about Joe. It's so easy to form an opinion when one only reads about the issues but has never lived where the issues are happening. Joe keeps getting voted back in office because the people of Phoenix like him and think what he does actually works in reducing the flow of drugs. If they felt otherwise, he wouldn't still be in office.

    1. George Wallace and other racists like him kept getting voted back into office in Alabama and Mississippi too.

      With all of the investigations going on about Arpaio it may not be long before he's in jail wearing pink underwear. That would be a wonderful sight to see.

  9. Having worked in several correctional facilities, that is one tour I would have skipped.

  10. It was an interesting tour none the less, and I am sure a pretty good way to reduce some crime.

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  12. If I lived in the Phoenix area I would vote for Sheriff Joe in a heartbeat. He has a tough job dealing with a segment of our society that have no regard for the laws of the land. Keep up the good work Sheriff Joe.

  13. What an interesting tour Sandie. That's something I would like to do.

  14. Rick is right. Arpaio is a publicity seeking racist. Many law enforcement agencies across the country are just as successful without the denigration and profiling. Any so-called financial savings are offset by the millions he is costing the taxpayers in lawsuits and court judgments. But, that is easy to disregard by those who can't see past his publicity stunts.

  15. Sheriff Joe is my hero and not because I like pink skivvies... :cD

  16. I don't know much about Sheriff Joe but I do agree prisons should not be luxury vacations. I have the sense that some prisons offer their inmates better heath care than many outside prison can afford.

  17. Wow Sandi, I bet you didn't think you'd get such a "heated" discussion about your tour. I didn't know one could tour the facility and I found your post interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Nice tour, always nice when you can leave at will!

  19. How very interesting! I knew a little about the sheriff and his practices, but not much. I wish all the prisons were like this - honestly, they are there to be punished for crimes, not coddled. It all seems very fair to the inmates, and especially to the taxpayers. I'm glad you had a good time, thanks for the tour! :)


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.