Temperatures rise to 145 inside Tent City
by Eugene Scott - Jul. 3, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio took the temperature inside one of the tents at Tent City Saturday afternoon.
The tents can sometimes mimic ovens or hot cars. The gauge in Arpaio's hand indicated 145 degrees, nearly 30 degrees hotter than the day's high.
The sheriff said it was exceptionally hot at the outdoor jail but said there was nothing he could do about it.
"What am I going to do, take them out of jail because it's too hot?" he said. "Our men and women are working out here in this heat, too. Does anyone feel sorry for them?"
At 118 degrees, Saturday was the hottest day of the year so far. To keep inmates cool, deputies passed out 6-ounce cups of ice to inmates at Tent City, located near 35th Avenue and Durango Street in Phoenix. It was the first time Arpaio has given inmates ice this year, and he said he doesn't know when he'll do it again.
Each of the 1,400 inmates in Tent City has been convicted of non-violent crimes, such as driving under the influence.
The facility, which has been open since 1993, can accommodate up to 2,000 inmates beneath its military surplus tents.
Female prisoners waited in a long line Saturday to receive their cup of ice while joking around with Arpaio. Many eagerly asked him to autograph Sheriff's Office postcards.
After receiving the ice, a few complained to media members that the fans near their beds were broken and the intense heat was causing their shoes to melt.
"They're just doing this for the media attention. This cup isn't going to do anything (to cool us down)," said Danielle Meek, 32, of Phoenix.
Despite the discomforts, Carrissa Satmarean, 21, of Mesa, said the moment wasn't completely wasted.
"We just came over here to see the guys (male inmates)," she said.