Recently the state of Arizona has received a considerable amount of attention with the new immigration law. But thinking back, Arizona has been in the news previously regarding prison issues and inmate management. In Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe Arpaio makes the news as he delivers forth his own unique brand of law enforcement. To further change the recidivism rate Sheriff Arpaio has implemented techniques which has not existed since the 1950s, and surprisingly has not met much resistance. Of the many changes Sheriff Arpaio has brought forward, two stand out which continue to receive media attention: Tent City and the Chain Gang.
Tent City is the name dubbed to the area adjacent to the Maricopa County Jail where inmates reside without the comfort and privileges which exist at most prisons within the United States. This was started in 1993 where two thousand convicted men and women serve out their time without the use of smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines and full access to the television. Though under scrutiny by some for inhumane treatment as the prisoners don’t receive the same benefits as other prisoners throughout the nation. The recidivism rates decline speak milestones for this method.
Additionally, the Sheriff resorted back to the old chain gangs for both men, women and juvenile delinquents. These chain gangs work throughout Maricopa County on burial details for the homeless, painting over graffiti, and cleaning the streets of litter and waste. Again this type of work has received complaints of equality of other prisons and inmates; but the County has nothing but support for the methodology and the lessons which the inmates learn while incarcerated.
Another interesting tidbit is the psychological effect which Sheriff Arpaio implemented at both the prison and at Tent City. A few years ago the Sheriff learned that the inmates were stealing the white boxer shorts which were worn underneath their clothing. Upon hearing this the Sheriff immediately ordered that all under garments, sheets, towels, socks were all dyed pink for a twofold purpose. First, the inmates would more than likely think twice stealing pink boxers, and second the pink would have a psychological calming effect on the inmates. The only item of clothing not dyed, was the old-fashioned black and white striped uniform which the inmates wear especially while out on the chain gang.