Arizona's Notorious Outdoor Prison Is Shutting Down
'Circus' is over, new sheriff says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2017 1:32 AM CDT
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In this 2012 photo, inmates walk through the courtyard in Joe Arpaio's "Tent City" jail in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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(Newser) – There's a new sheriff in Arizona's Maricopa County, and he's shutting down his predecessor's notorious "Tent City." Sheriff Paul Penzone, who defeated Sheriff Joe Arpaio in November's election, announced Tuesday that he's getting rid of the open-air facility, where inmates are given pink underwear and meat is not on the menu, the Arizona Republic reports. He said that contrary to Arpaio's boasts, the prison neither saved the county money nor served as a deterrent to crime. "Starting today, that circus ends, and these tents come down," the former Phoenix police sergeant said. He said closing the facility will save $4.5 million a year and that there's plenty of room elsewhere for Tent City's 800 or so inmates.

"The days of Arizona being a place where people are humiliated or abused or ridiculed for the self-aggrandizing of others are over," former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods said. He noted, however, that Tent City wasn't as harsh a place as it was sometimes depicted, and that its inmates chose to be there instead of indoor prisons. Arpaio, who served as sheriff for 24 years, rejected criticism of the facility he erected in his first year in office and said it would go down in history "as one of the greatest incarceration programs in our country." "I hope Trump will put the tents on the border for all the illegals that are caught there," he told the New York Times.

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