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Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone speaks about future of Tent City

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LISTEN: Sheriff Paul Penzone

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said the county has began rolling back the use of pink clothing for prisoners sentenced to Tent City — even though the future for the infamous detention center is still uncertain.

Penzone told KTAR News’ Mac and Gaydos on Thursday the county has ordered new batches of white underwear for prisoners in an effort to get back to “being a serious law enforcement agency and a serious detention agency.”

“There’s absolutely no science, no — nothing at all that says that those types of items benefit the community or safety or reduce recidivism,” Penzone said. “So we’re getting back to being a serious law enforcement agency and a serious detention agency.”

But Penzone did express that the county will continue to use the pink clothing “until it’s no longer good.”

During his exclusive, monthly interview with Mac and Gaydos, Penzone did not speculate on the results of a 12-person committee’s evaluation of Tent City, saying it is “completely irresponsible for me to speak of it until it is time for me to speak of it.”

“For me to come forward with this presumptuously, I think it’s an insult to those who have given me their time and those who have given me their counsel,” Penzone said. “I’ll be the decision-maker, but it is a process and I want to respect that.”

Nearly 100 days into Penzone’s administration, the new Maricopa County sheriff said he has vowed to put former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 24-year-long reign “in the rearview mirror.”

“It’s time to turn the page,” Penzone said. “People need to recognize that I am the sheriff now. That story was yesterday, this is today.”

While Penzone did acknowledge his successor’s attempts to use the pink underwear as a means of reducing theft and reducing the overflow in the prisons, he pointed to the stable prison population rate as a factor in evaluating the future of Tent City.

“The brand, the issue, the need is all gone now and we’re moving on,” he said.

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