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INMATES “SERVING” TIME IN SHERIFF’S TENTS NEARING 500,000 MARK
ARPAIO DENOUNCES CYNICS WHO CALLFOR AN END TO TENT CITY
February 26, 2012
As Tent City, the nation’s largest canvas incarceration compound quietlyslides into its 19
year of operation, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is erecting alarge sign on the outside the compound announcing to all visitors the number of inmates who have successfully served time in Tent City. Borrowing from the world’s most renowned fast food chain, the sign will be updatedmonthly reading ‘Number of Inmates “Served.”’ Arpaio says that while some may saythe sign serves little purpose, his point in erecting it is to underscore that Tent Cityremains an excellent facility to safely and cost effectively house inmates. “Why would anyone call for an end to this program and the closure of Tent City?”Arpaio says. “Tent City makes room for inmates who otherwise might be released tothe streets due to overcrowded jails. It’s one of the best things to have happened inthe local criminal justice system.” It’s such an efficient program, Arpaio points out, that it has been visited by four U.S. presidential candidates and a number of senators from several states.Sheriff Arpaio opened Tent City in 1993 using inexpensive Korean War tents to housemale and eventually female inmates who are sentenced to jail. Now, nearly 19 yearslater, over 427,000 inmates have “served” their time in the Tents Jail, including about350,000 males and 80,000 females."Tent City is one of my proudest innovations,” Arpaio says, “and has long been andstill continues to be a model program throughout the entire nation as an economical,safe and successful way to house a growing inmate population."