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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio greets Jane Sanders at Tent City visit

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio meets with community organizer and wife of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders during her visit to Tent City on Monday, March 14, 2016. (KTAR Photo/Brian Rackham)

PHOENIX — Jane Sanders, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and a community organizer herself, was greeted by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio during a visit to Tent City on Monday.

Sanders, whose spokesperson said she did not want to meet with the self-proclaimed “Toughest Sheriff in America,” was taken back by the surprise visit, which came about after a reporter said Arpaio was on standby and would like to meet with her.

Listen to the encounter, which begins around the 2-minute mark, in the audio below.

Sanders announced her visit to the inmate facility on Sunday, aiming to draw awareness to the inhumane conditions of the area and visit with victims of Arapio’s raids.

According to a press release, Tent City currently houses over 2,000 inmates since its inception in 1993. The inmates housed within the facility are fed rotten fruit and moldy bread and kept in outdoor conditions that reach well into the triple digits during the Arizona summers.

Sanders called the facility “worrisome” during her visit on Monday and spotlighted Arizona as a state that spearheaded several racially-motivated pieces of legislation, particularly SB 1070.

“This is very worrisome — and what’s more worrisome is that Arizona has started a number of things, like the racial profiling bills, and other states have followed suit,” she said. “So we need to learn about things and speak about them early before other people follow in what we think is the wrong direction.”

Sanders said she visited the facility to speak with aspiring Americans and get their input on law enforcement polities in the area.

“Just to know that people are in the Arizona hot sun, in tents, that Sheriff Arpaio has already said go up to 130, 140 degrees, it’s inhumane,” she said. “I don’t know how that happened in this country, that’s not supposed to happen in this country.”

Tent City is just one of Arpaio’s controversial detention policies. In 2012, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the sheriff, alleging racial discrimination against Latino inmates. The suit was settled in 2015.

Sanders’ visit comes just one day before the Vermont governor plans to visit Phoenix for the second time on Tuesday, just one week ahead of the Arizona primary.

KTAR News’ Brian Rackham contributed to this report. 

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