The Tent City Jail In Arizona Is Closing After 22 Years

joe arpaio tent city closing

Aerial view of Tent City which will be closing in December of this year. (AP Photo/Michael Kortas)

Phoenix, Arizona — After 22-years of controversy, the tents in Phoenix, Arizona are finally coming down.

In a unanimous decision early this morning, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of closing the facility this December.

Paul Horner with the American Civil Liberties Union spoke with reporters about the closing of Tent City.

“This is a move that is long overdue, but I applaud the council for finally making that right move,” Horner told local news station ABC15. “Tent City is the definition of a human rights violation and even though they may be inmates, they deserve to be treated like human beings. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has routinely abused pre-trial detainees by feeding them moldy bread, rotten fruit and other contaminated food. Arpaio chose to house inmates in 20-year old tents, so hot as to endanger their health, denying them care for serious medical and mental health needs and keeping them packed as tightly as sardines for days at a time.”

Arpaio’s Tent City is notorious for inhumane conditions, from the food to the 118 degree heat.

On Thursday an inmate died in the tents after officers noticed the man had not shown up for work. No foul play is suspected.

According to NBC News, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisor’s main reason for shutting down the tents comes after years of protests, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s current legal battles and pressure from lawmakers to close the facility.

Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Withholding Food From Inmates For The Holidays

Joe Arpaio not feeding inmates not feeding inmates for the holiday.

Joe Arpaio making a surprise visit to one of his jails this year.

Phoenix, AZ — The controversial sheriff in Arizona, Joe Arpaio, is once again making national headlines. This time the sheriff is refusing to feed inmates for the holiday season beginning the morning of December 25th and ending midnight on December 31st. The sheriff is also putting a halt to all commissary sales during these days. Prisoners will not be allowed to purchase or eat any food regardless if it was purchased before the 25th.

Activists protested outside of the auditorium in downtown Phoenix where Arpaio held a press conference to announce the news. “Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. The inmates here can do a week,” chuckled Arpaio. “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

These kinds of publicity stunts are nothing new for Arpaio who has sparked controversy in the past for his treatment of inmates. Such things as mandatory pink underwear for inmates, the first all-female chain gang and replacing all meat products with soy are all credited to Arpaio.

Paul Horner with the American Civil Liberties Union said Arpaio has gone too far this time. “This is the definition of a human rights violation. They may be inmates but they deserve to be treated properly and that includes such basic human necessities such as food and water,” Horner said. “More than 98% of the inmates at Tent City are there for non-violent crimes or probation violation. This is just more Arpaio antics aimed to show-off in front of the media while prisoners suffer.”

“I hope the inmates give thanks for the meals they won’t be eating for a week,” Arpaio’s said. “I hope this will help them get in the holiday spirit. They’ll be outside in their cots, freezing weather, dreaming of Santa Claus bringing them food for their hungry belly,” Arpaio laughed.

The official Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office website features a bio of Arpaio that touts his accomplishments in providing inmates with “the cheapest meals in the U.S.” by feeding inmates “only twice daily, to cut the labor costs of meal delivery.” Arpaio has “even stopped serving them salt and pepper” to save taxpayer money, according to the bio.

Arpaio recently implemented a vegetarian diet for inmates in an effort to save $100,000 on food costs for prisoners. He also announced in March a plan to charge inmates $1 for their meals. Currently the average meal for an inmate in a Maricopa County jail costs between 15 and 40 cents according to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office website.