The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).





Of Bradley County Tn.


JULY  2004

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

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Pettus Read

Sheriff Houses Prisoners In Tents

Feeds them surplus food and requires them to work chain gangs.

by Pete Edwards

Joe Arpaio is Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He has a world wide reputation for being tough on crime and has instituted unusual and

innovative measures to save taxpayer dollars. Best known for requiring inmates to wear pink underwear and black and white striped prison uniforms, he has been called America's toughest sheriff, a title he seems to live up to. Arpaio operates one of the largest tent prison facilities in the nation, housing over 2000 men and women inmates. He also requires both male and female prisoners to work on chain gangs up to six days a week.

From an enforcement perspective, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office prides itself on serving and protecting the people who live in a huge county... 9200 square miles... an area larger than some states. There is also a philosophy of zero tolerance

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towards the criminal element, which has been embraced by deputies and community alike. Arpaio was elected Sheriff in 1992 after serving a distinguished career in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and as head of  the Arizona DEA. When asked about the 85% approval rating from his constituents he says,  "As Sheriff, I serve the public. The public is my boss"

Arpaio also runs one of the most open sheriff's departments in the nation. It is Arpaio's policy that his Public Information Office answer questions

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asked by the media in a timely and accurate manner. The office is staffed by three employees -  one civilian and two sworn deputies. Sheriff Arpaio has allowed the media unprecedented access to the jails, inmates and policies. But as Arpaio says, "we have nothing to hide and nothing to fear."
Because of a tight budget he has managed to reduce the average cost of an inmate's meal to less than 45 cents by feeding them surplus food. He has a reputation for feeding green bologna as part of the diet.

Inmates at his jails do not enjoy comforts other

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jails offer. Arpaio doesn't believe in coddling criminals, frequently saying that jails should not be country clubs. He banned smoking, coffee, pornographic magazines, movies and unrestricted television in all his jails.

While his popularity among the people soars, human rights groups like Amnesty International point to jail conditions they say are worse than sub-standard and which may ultimately have led to the deaths of two inmates.

Despite criticism from some groups, the sheriff's money saving and community minded programs are endorsed and supported by the majority of citizens in Maricopa County. One program uses prisoners to care for animals from the animal control unit. Animals are housed in an old uninhabitable jail that has been modified for the purpose. When a female inmate working with the animals was asked if she resented animals being housed in an air-conditioned unit while she slept in a tent, she said, "they have done nothing wrong, I have."

Another program that has been money saving for the community is the Posse Program. Over 3200 citizens from all walks of life take part, with units specializing in different areas of community law enforcement, including patrolling areas of drug activity and prostitution.

A part of the tent holding facility is sectioned off for occupation by juveniles sampling the life of an inmate. They are locked in over the weekend, are required to obey the rules of prison life and eat the same food inmates eat.

To learn more go to www.mcso.org

Would you support the housing of prisoners in a tent compound in Bradley County and are you in favor of requiring convicted inmates to work for the community in order to offset the cost of their keep.
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The People News
PO Box 3921
Cleveland TN. 37320
(423) 559-2150  Fax 559-1044

Editor/Publisher, Pete Edwards
Copyright 2004 (All rights reserved)

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