Arpaio celebrates Tent City anniversary, refuses to talk about civil trial

August 03, 2012

More than 400,000 Maricopa County jail inmates have been housed in Tent City since the facility was first opened. Sheriff Joe Arpaio began using Korean War-era tents to house inmates 19 years ago. Today the sheriff talked about the tents and critics of program. KJZZ's Al Macias reports.

AL MACIAS: Under the 110 degree mid-day sun the sheriff talked to inmates and reporters about the tents. He dismissed a recent protest by hundreds of Unitarian church members. He says the tents have saved the county money and he's proud of his department and the tents.

JOE ARPAIO: I got a big organization I gotta run.....I got 4,000 employees, what 3,000 posse....8,000-10,000 people in jail...I'm responsible for every one of those.

MACIAS: The question of responsibility came up last week during the civil trial where the sheriff's department is accused of racial profiling. Arpaio's Dhief Deputy Brian Sands testified in federal court that the sheriff doesn't understand what the rank-and-file deputies were doing during the department's crime sweeps. Arpaio was asked what he thought of that testimony.

MACIAS/ARPAIO So your comfortable with Chief Sands said ... I'm not saying, I'm not commenting Al on the trial ... I'm just talking about my philosophy as it pertains to running these jails and everything else ... I let my dedicated people do it.

MACIAS: Arpaio says he agrees with his critics who say his jails are unpleasant. He says his philosophy is to make the tents and other jail facilities as uninviting as possible so that inmates will not come back.

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