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Maricopa County’s controversial Tent City is almost completely torn down

The controversial Tent City in Phoenix is almost completely torn down, as of May 24, 2017. (Photo by Corbin Carson/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — The end of Maricopa County’s controversial Tent City jail is almost here.

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone made the announcement to close the facility down in early April. In an update Wednesday, Penzone said they are ahead of schedule.

“Storing what it is in good condition, disposing of pieces that are no longer necessary or valuable, and focusing on continued improvement of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s detention facilities,” said Penzone.

Since Penzone made the announcement to close it down, 400 inmates and the Tent City sheriff deputies have been relocated, including complete closure of the female facility.

“When I say improvement, it is about efficiencies, it is about professionalism, it is about effectiveness,” he said. “So that we can run a fundamentally sound and safe facility that is not a burden to the taxpayers or our partners, and lawsuits are mitigated, or better yet, avoided.”

It takes around six guys to pull off the military grade canvas and follow up by using saws to tear down the tent structure.

There’s no word yet on where the remaining 400 inmates in Tent City will go.

Penzone said they’re all on work furlough and need to check in and check out every day for work, and that’s complicated to secure.

The sheriff said he is also still deciding what he wants to do with the space.

“Whatever we choose to do with this property, with this area, it should be for the best interest of the community,” he said. “It should be something that is extremely efficient financially.

“And it should be a focus on how do we take those who are detained and put them in a position to curb their behavior, so that when they return to the general population of our community, they become productive.”

Tent City opened in 1993. The jail has a maximum capacity of 2,000 prisoners.

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