24 Jun 08

Tent City (Part 2)

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City is probably one of the most brutal jails in the world.

“Tell me about the gangs and the rules they enforced on you?” I asked.
“The gangs go from tent to tent threatening everyone,” said Jay, my ex fiancée’s youngest brother, who recently served a short sentence at Tent City.
“Gangs like who, the Aryan Brotherhood?”
“Yeah, the Aryan Brotherhood dudes do meetings with your whole tent. Four of them walk in and tell you their rules.”
“Like what?”
“You can’t piss in the shitters or shit in the pissers. You must clean up after everyone eats. You can’t get the tent locked down. You can’t use the phone for too long. If you have an issue with someone, you have to report to the Aryan Brothers, then they decide whether you need to fight that person. They set the fight up where the guards can’t see, so everyone doesn’t get locked down.”
“Sounds like a gladiator school.”
“There’s like five or six fights every night.”
“What happens if you violate these rules?”
“A gang of them will smash you.”
“What do these Aryan Brothers look like?”
“Huge muscular dudes or fat dudes. Dudes who would easily beat you up.”
“It sounds like the gangs, not the guards, are running things in Tent City.”
“Definitely the gangs. There’s no guards visible during the day. They’re hiding out in air-conditioned rooms.”
“So a prisoner needs to be more aware of the gang rules than the jail rules?”
“Totally, if you don’t want to get smashed. If the guards want you to do something they announce it over the loudspeaker, then it’s up to the head gang members in the tent to make that happen.”
“There’s been murder after murder at Tent City, yet Joe Arpaio continues to deny it’s an unsafe place. How easy is it for violence and murder to happen there?”
“Very easy. The fights and attacks are mostly in a blackout spot in a far corner. The guards can’t see there. The gangs smash you over there.”
“So the gangs can do whatever they want to you without the guards seeing?”
“Yeah. They have a watchtower, so they can say someone’s watching over the whole Tent City, but there’s never anyone in there. The watchtower is like a motorized one. I never saw it motorized to the ground. I don’t think it works. They just have it there so they can say they have one.”
“So if you’re attacked in the blackout spot, you could be dead by the time the guards
find out?”
“Yeah. Even if the guards find out you’re being attacked, they have to go through the crowds to get all the way to the corner, and by then the gangs have had plenty of time to do whatever they want to do to you and to get way and hide their weapons.”
“Why would someone get killed in Tent City?”
“People are crazy in there. You can get killed just for shit talking. A lot of them are fucked up on drugs and looking for trouble.”
“How much drugs are in there?”
“It’s flooded with heroin, meth, coke and tobacco.”
“If the guards are hiding out in air-conditioned rooms, drugs must be going on everywhere.”
“They mostly do it in the tents and the blackout area.”
“How are the drugs getting in to Tent City?”
“Tent City is next to a parking lot and a canal. People just walk up to the fence and throw things over – drugs, guns, knives, cell phones, anything. It’s only like fifteen feet high. The last week I was there, I watched them throwing stuff over. It all comes over and hits the ground. The guy throwing it over makes chirping noises. The receiver chirps back to let the thrower know he’s aware it’s coming, then he throws it over, and the guy gets it real quick.”
“So if an inmate wants a gun or a knife to kill someone with, he simply gets it thrown over the fence to him?”
“Yeah.”
“What are the guards armed with?”
“The guards are just DO’s [Detention Officers]. They have no guns or anything. They’re not equipped to deal with armed gang members. All they have are Tasers.”
“What kind of things will get you tased?”
“I saw people get tased just for being a smart-ass. The DO’s like to mess with your head. They wake you up every two hours in the middle of the night to do ID checks. If you don’t wake up right away they poke you with clipboards and shit like that.”
“Did you get poked?”
“Yeah. You’re not allowed pillows. You can’t use anything, even a blanket under your head, or else they take all of your stuff away. The guards nicknamed me Small Fry. They even called me that over the intercom.”
“How hot is it?”
“It was 109 for a couple of days. My tent read 112.”
“How can you tell the temperature?”
“From alarm clocks with temperature gauges. The first time I went to Tent City it was 118 outside and 120’s in the tent. Water goes fast when you’re that hot.”


Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

Copyright © 2007-2008 Shaun P. Attwood

4 comments:

Lindsey said...

I can't believe there is even the posibility of items being simply thrown over a fence??? Thats mental!
Here in Canada there is a lot of debate surrounding the RCMP's abuse/use of tasers. Check out this article/video on the issue:
http://www.thestar.com/article/445834
Yesterday a man from Simcoe, Ontario, died after being repeatedly tasered by police. Horrific.

PS:
Shaun, I like your new profile photo!! Like to see you smiling!

Anonymous said...

thanks for all of the fine entries by you and your "guest correspondents". i am curious. is water rationed out in tent city? how is it distributed?

as another comparison, in los angeles county jails, it is quite overcrowded, with too many inmates crowded into cells and sleeping on floors. whenever there is rioting or unrest, cells are locked down and meals are served as loaves, with all discrete food elements mixed together. it is edible and nutritious, but aesthetically displeasing!

Anonymous said...

What is this?
Something like this is impossible in Germany.
Nether criminals getting supported by stuff given to them by throwing it over the fence, nor guards having tasers .__.

I'm shocked deeply ...

Anonymous said...

people are suprised by this? in america we see more ads on tv for animal rights activists than for human rights.. screw people dont kick dogs.. isnt america great!