Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City (Part 8 by Guest Blogger Daniel Horne)
Daniel Horne spent almost a year in Tent City. He is a business executive, husband, and father of two. Following a car accident, Daniel was not charged with drunk driving, but with aggravated assault – in Arizona’s legal system a car can be classified as a weapon you assault someone with. He is the author of the book, Accidental Felons and blog.
I spoke to one of the third shift guards when a bunk in Tent 57 became available. It wasn’t a problem for me to move. Staying with my odd luck of always getting an end bunk, the bunk I moved to in Tent 57 was exceptional. It faced the east, so I didn’t get the stifling afternoon sun. It was also away from the roads, traffic, and, most of all, the loudspeakers. It was my best move yet. I wasn’t in Work Release a month, and I was already living in the best tent in the yard. Life was improving.
Ted, William, and I stood by the entrance to the tent and were talking the morning after I moved in to the bunk next to them. It was almost seven o’clock and time to walk toward the gate, but all of us were exhausted and we were not in a hurry this morning. A group of new DO recruits were coming toward us outside the dog run on their morning jog. Dressed in white T-shirts, black shorts, black tennis shoes, and white socks, they looked like twenty clones approaching. The cadence of the drill sergeant was the next thing we heard as he called out to his troops, “Say good morning to the convicts, DOs.”
“Good morning, convicts!” all twenty of them shouted in unison to the three of us as they passed.
“What did you say?” the sergeant asked with a loud bark.
“Good morning, convicts!” the troops shouted at the top of their lungs, making sure everyone on the yard heard their greeting.
“What a joke,” Ted said. “These men pretend they’re soldiers, and look at them. Most of them are so fat they can barely run. I don’t know what to call a fat, lazy, twenty-five year old wanna be a man. There weren’t that many of them around when I was in my twenties.”
“Yeah,” William said, “They’re a funny sight. And they think they’re such tough guys, too.”
“Luckily for them, there aren’t many tough guys in this place,” I said with a laugh. “They’d be up shit’s creek if there were.”
“Come on, men. I see Mertlow going to the gate,” Ted said.
The three of us began the walk up the forty yards between the rows of tents, the gravel crunching beneath our shoes. A porta-potty door slammed to my right, catching my attention. There was a group of six porta-potties over in the Work-Furlough-yard and three at the front gate. That made ten in all.
“Ten toilets for five hundred prisoners,” I said. “I sure hope they dump these things every day, or it’s going to stink to high heaven in here.”
“Actually, they’re scheduled to be cleaned every two days,” Ted said. “I read the label on the inside.”
“Holidays ought to be interesting,” William said, as we stood on the fringe of the group of men gathered about the gate waiting for names to be called.
Ted had discovered the details of the porta-potty mystery. An inspector from the Health Department had spent ten days in jail for a DUI on the female side of the yard. She had been released and promptly came back with an order condemning the toilet facilities. The women were moved to Estrella Jail, and the women’s side of the yard was opened to male access for construction. Word was, that as bad and disgusting as the men’s facilities were, the women’s side was worse. The filth of the jail wasn’t exactly news to anyone living in Maricopa County, so the press was dutifully disinterested.
Click here for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Tent City Part 7
Click here for details of Daniel’s website and book
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Shaun P. Attwood