Tent City - Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Shameful Creation

Guest blog by Pearl Wilson, co-founder, Mothers Against Arpaio (MAA)

Letter to Maricopa County Board of Supervisors

I would like to bring to your attention a problem in Maricopa County; one that I believe you are already familiar with. The problem is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his greatest source of nationwide publicity, the infamous Tent City.

The conditions in Tent City are extremely dangerous, for several reasons. The lack of inmate supervision, due to the drastically low ratio of guards per inmates, the lack of management controls to secure the safety/health of inmates and guards, overcrowding issues, inmate violence, access to drugs and contraband, and the lawsuits that are filed against Maricopa County as a result of these conditions, screams for more attention from you, the Board of Supervisors.

I do not present this problem to you merely as a concerned county resident, but as a woman who has been directly affected by this terrible problem. My name is Pearl Wilson and my loving son, Phillip Wilson, was murdered in Tent City in 2003. While serving a short sentence for a simple probation violation, my son was horribly beaten by unsupervised inmates, resulting in a coma, and later his untimely death.

But his is not the only case; nowhere close. As I write this letter, there are over 1,500 cases pending in which Sheriff Joe Arpaio is listed as a defendant. These cases are costing the county millions of dollars, and will continue to do so until something is done to correct the problem. With two new jails having been recently opened, at a cost of $500 million to the taxpayers, there should be absolutely no reason to keep Tent City open. It seems quite clear the only reason Tent City is still open is for Sheriff Arpaio’s own self-promotion.
An ASU study – commissioned by Arpaio himself – concluded that Tent City does not deter crime in Maricopa County. Yet, Arpaio continues to punish detainees and inmates under the horrific conditions of Tent City.

I am very interested to know the Board of Supervisors’ rationale of this issue.

Why is the county not making full use of the two new jails, and who do we keep Tent City open when it is such an obvious liability to the county? Understaffing in the county jails has been an issue almost the entire time Joe Arpaio has been in office, and is no longer an acceptable excuse. Recent publicity suggests that his own employees are uncomfortable working for him and fear retaliation if they choose not to openly support him. Is the sheriff himself to blame for the understaffing issue, or does the problem go deeper? I know in my heart that no amount of money will ever bring my son back. The only thing that will truly bring comfort to myself and my family is knowing that while the senseless death of my son could have been prevented and wasn’t, we can prevent more wrongful deaths, of inmates and guards, by tearing down the tents.

I humbly ask you to please consider my request for Tent City to be torn down.
It is not worth the publicity to lose lives, even the lives of those people who have committed crimes. Since the tents were designed to handle overcrowding and that is no longer an issue, due to the construction of the new jails, it makes sense to move the inmates to indoor facilities where they can be better monitored. It would increase the safety for everyone involved, including the detention officers.
I anxiously await a reply from the board, and hope that you will thoughtfully consider my request.

Jon would like to have your comments on Pearl's article and your opinions of Tent City

Jon spent two years in Arpaio’s jails click here to get the truth.


Dollar Pixel said...

Pearl I wholeheartedly agree that Mr. Arpaio needs to tear down his tents.
What happened in Iraq was proof that everything that occurs in jails and prisons is NOT acceptable. I think it's time that people on the outside, who are tired of hearing horror stories from those incarcerated form a
method whereby all inmates nationwide can report abuse. Then we will find out what officers routinely commit these actions, and we can make them famous with our
internet skills. Write businessbehindbars@gmail.com if anyone would like to help with this endeavor.

Anonymous said...

Tent City is indeed shameful, and I believe that Mr.Arpaio is in the UK this week preaching his inhumane doctrine. It will be interesting to see if the average Uk citizen is taken in by his campaign of hate and revenge on people who should be given rehabilitation, and a chance to reform themselves so they can become useful members of society when they leave prison.
Don't let it happen here!
UK Citizen

Alex Sheers said...

Sheriff Joe was indeed on Radio 4's 'Today' programme this morning, expounding the virtues of keeping prisoners in sub-human conditions to half-witted Daily Mail-reading buffoons, who were obviously only too keen to cheer on his ill-considered manifesto for a crime-free Britain.

Given what Jon has brought to light in his Guardian article and blog, I'm glad to say that this is not something I can see happening in this country anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the British public will see Mr. Arpaio for what he is, a con man. I'm surprised the BBC have given him airtime.

Anonymous said...

Sheriff Joe is going to be on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme every day this week some time inbetween 7-8am. Or you can listen to his bilge on the BBC website.
Concerned License payer.

Anonymous said...

I am utterly mortified and outraged.


Anonymous said...

I urge as many people as possible to contact the today programme and the bbc to ask why on earth tax payers money is being used to bring arpaio over here. it's an outrage. i would expect this from daily more but expected more of the today programme.

Anonymous said...

It would be too cold, wet and windy for tents in England. They'd get blown away and the prisoners with them. But perhaps that wouldn't be a bad thing.

Janice Bradly

Anonymous said...

Mr.Arpaio was on at around 8.30am today. He was on form and came out with the following gem: 'Young offenders get the death penalty here - I'm a believer in equal opps'.
When he was asked at what age the death penalty could be given, he wasn't sure and said, '15, 16, 17?'.
Irwin James' reasoned and intelligent comments contrasted with the sheriff's bluster.
Go home Joe!!!

Anonymous said...

Blow away the tents not the prisoners was what I meant, sorry.


Anonymous said...

The Today programme in no way glorified Joe, in fact it gave a balanced view of the justice system, and what came across to me was the polite opposition by almost everyone interviewed to the very idea of the introduction of his methods into the UK.
Well done BBC