"Hot Time In Tent City"
Thanks to the Associated Press and the World Wide Web for information gleaned to write the following. - Bob Ford
Joe Arpaio gets my vote for "Best Innkeeper in America."
Actually, Joe isn’t an innkeeper — he’s keeper of the Maricopa County Jail in Arizona where he’s the sheriff.
Sheriff Arpaio’s jail is a "smoke free facility" and porn magazines are not allowed in the Maricopa County Jail. The sheriff cut off cable TV until he found out there’s a federal court order that requires cable TV for inmates.
Inmates now have cable TV, but the only channels they receive are the Disney and Weather channels. Why the Weather Channel? According to the sheriff: "So they’ll know how hot it’s gonna be while they’re out workin’ on the chain gang."
Sheriff Arpaio has also reduced jail operating costs. Meals are down to 40¢ per serving, and inmates pay for their own food with money they earn on work details. Coffee has been eliminated from the inmate diet because it has zero nutritional value.
Yes, inmates complain about conditions at the Maricopa County Jail, but the sheriff’s response is, "This isn’t the Ritz Carlton Hotel. If you don’t like it here, don’t come back!"
Another of Sheriff Joe’s innovations is the inmate uniforms. Inmates wear pink. Pink jumpsuits. Pink undershorts. Pink socks. It’s not hard to spot an escapee in Maricopa County.
Because of shrinking jail budgets, Sheriff Joe was one of the first in the U.S. to build a "tent city." That’s right — there are 2,000 inmates housed in canvas tents with the entire compound surrounded by concertina razor wire.
With temperatures hovering around 115 degrees Fahrenheit, Sheriff Joe gave inmates permission to strip down to their pink undershorts.
"It feels like we’re in a furnace," says one inmate who has been living in the jail’s tent city for 1½ years. Sheriff Joe’s response to that complaint: "It’s 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too. They have to wear full battle gear and they didn’t commit any crimes — so shut your damned mouth!"
Copyright-Bob Ford 2004