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Tent City celebrates 15 years, will expand

Tent City is expanding. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio made that announcement today while criticizing other Valley leaders.

Arpaio celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Tent City jail by announcing six more tents and a solar powered shower and bathroom will soon be up and running at the facility.

The sheriff claims the tents cost nothing.

He says the jail has been a success since it opened for business on August 3, 1993. “We’ve had very few problems in the last 15 years. I think only one situation we had a big disturbance. So, it’s a success program.”

He used the celebration to criticize Mesa Police Chief George Gascon and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon for their efforts to build new jails.

Arpaio says he can’t believe Gascon’s suggestion that Mesa may privatize its jails. The sheriff says he’ll never do that. “I will go to my grave before I ever have a private company running our jail system. That should be a government operation, not a commercial operation to make money.”

“With the economy being the way it is, it’s just puzzling why Phoenix and Mesa would want to build their own jails and tax the taxpayers more money with the economic situation we are in.”

He added, “so I’m a little surprised why Phoenix has to send a team of people across the nation to see how others run jails when we have the best run jail system in the country, at least the top five and we’ll put that against anybody.”

Arpaio says instead of sending teams around the country, Gascon and Gordon should be sending them to Tent City to see how things are done.

The new tents will expand Tent City’s capacity to 2,500 inmates.