Tent City Update

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We’ll get an update on Maricopa County’s Tent City Jail, which is being closed down by the new sheriff, Paul Penzone. Chief Tracy Haggard will bring us up to date.

TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," WE GET AN UPDATE ON MARICOPA COUNTY'S TENT CITY JAIL. ALSO TONIGHT: HEAR HOW CHILDREN'S' ISSUES FARED IN THE 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION... AND THE CITY OF PHOENIX GETS A NATIONAL INNOVATION AWARD. THOSE STORIES NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON."

NARRARATOR: BROUGHT TO YOU BY MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. HERE NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE CLOSURE OF TENT CITY IS MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF PAUL PENZONE TODAY GAVE AN UPDATE ON TENT CITY JAIL, A JOE ARPAIO-ERA PROJECT THAT THE NEW SHERIFF IS SHUTTING DOWN. THIS AFTERNOON, WORKERS TOOK DOWN SOME OF THE REMAINING TENTS. SHERIFF PENZONE SAYS THE PROJECT IS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE AND THAT ALL OF THE INMATES EXCEPT FOR THOSE ON WORK FURLOUGH HAVE BEEN MOVED TO OTHER JAILS.

PAUL PENZONE: THE STAGE WE ARE IN IS TEAR DOWN. STORING WHAT'S IN GOOD CONDITION, DISPOSING OF PIECES NO LONGER VALUABLE AND FOCUSING ON IMPROVEMENT OF THE SHERIFF'S DETENTION FACILITIES.

TED SIMONS: WITH US NOW IS THE CHIEF OF CUSTODY TRACY HAGGARD. GOOD TO HAVE YOU. THE CURRENT STATUS, CURRENT STATE OF TENT CITY IS WHAT?

TRACY HAGGARD: WE HAVE ZERO INMATES HOUSED THERE. ALL OF OUR INMATES HAVE BEEN MOVED TO OTHER JAIL FACILITIES. WE HAVE A SMALL GROUP OF DEDICATED OFFICERS IN THE PROCESS OF TAKING DOWN THE TENT CANVASSES, STEEL STRUCTURES, LIGHTING AND FANS THAT WERE INSIDE THE TENTS. THEY ARE REMOVING THOSE.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS PRISONERS THAT WERE TRANSFERRED, HOW MANY WERE TRANSFERRED AND HOW MANY WERE IN THERE DURING THE WANING DAYS?

TRACY HAGGARD: 400. 300 MALE INMATES AND 100 FEMALE INMATES. THE WOMEN WERE MOVED TO A FEMALE FACILITY AND THE MALES WERE MOVED TO THE DURANGO FACILITY.

TED SIMONS: I THINK PEOPLE ARE UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT THERE IS NOT ENOUGH SPACE TO TRANSFER THEM ELSEWHERE. IS THERE ENOUGH SPACE?

TRACY HAGGARD: THERE IS ENOUGH SPACE. IT'S AMOUNT OF HOUSING AND CLASSIFICATION. IT'S NOT LIKE WE CAN JUST TAKE A THOUSAND INMATES AND MOVE THEM IN OVERNIGHT. WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THE STRUCTURE, HOUSING DESIGN WE HAVE, AND HOW MANY BEDS WE HAVE AVAILABLE.

TED SIMONS: THE TENTS THEMSELVES, YOU SAY THEY HAVE BEEN TAKEN DOWN. COMPLETELY TAKEN DOWN OR THE MOST PART TAKEN DOWN?

TRACY HAGGARD: NO, SIR. WE HAVE 45 TENTS. TODAY AT SHERIFF PENZONE'S PRESS CONFERENCE WE TOOK DOWN 19.

TED SIMONS: THEY'LL ALL BE TAKEN DOWN?

TRACY HAGGARD: YES, SIR, EVENTUALLY.

TED SIMONS: WHAT HAPPENS TO THE TENTS?

TRACY HAGGARD: THEY HAVE BEEN DONATED. THEY WERE GIVEN TO US BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. THEY HAVE BEEN DONATED SINCE 1993, AND WE HAVE PATCHED THEM OVER THE YEARS. THEY NEED TO BE FOLDED UP AND DISCARDED OR PUT INTO STORAGE UNTIL WE DETERMINE WHAT TO DO WITH THEM. INTERESTING. AS FAR AS THE PROPERTY, 7-ACRES? WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PROPERTY?

TRACY HAGGARD: IT BELONGS TO THE COUNTY. SHERIFF PENZONE ALONG WITH THE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WILL DETERMINE WHAT WILL BE DONE WITH THAT AREA.

TED SIMONS: WHY IS TENT CITY COMING DOWN?

TRACY HAGGARD: IT'S NOT FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE TO MAINTAIN IT. IT COSTS $7.8 MILLION A YEAR TO RUN THE FACILITY. IT'S COST PROHIBITIVE TO MAINTAIN IT.

TED SIMONS: THE PREVIOUS SHERIFF SAID IT WAS AN INEXPENSIVE SOLUTION TO ROVER CROWDING. WAS HE WRONG?

TRACY HAGGARD: IN 1993, HE WAS CORRECT. WE WERE OVERCROWDED IN THE JAIL FACILITIES, INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS SLEEPING ON WHAT IS CALLED BOATS, PLASTIC BEDS IN THE DAY ROOMS. THE THEN SHERIFF ARPAIO SAID WE WILL NOT TURN PEOPLE AWAY. WE'LL HAVE VACANCY AND HE DETERMINED THE TENTS WERE A TEMPORARY SOLUTION THAT TURNED INTO A PERMANENT SOLUTION FOR HIM.

TED SIMONS: THERE ARE THOSE THAT SAY TENT CITY SERVED AS A DETERRENT TO CRIME. NOBODY WANTED TO SPEND TIME THERE BECAUSE OF THE FOOD OR CIRCUMSTANCES. WAS THAT ACCURATE?

TRACY HAGGARD: WE HAVE NO DATA TO PROVE THAT IT WAS A FORM OF INCARCERATION THAT ENCOURAGED RECIDIVISM. WE HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW THAT. IT'S THE OPPOSITE. WE DID HAVE REPEAT OFFENDERS THAT WOULD RETURN TO TENTS.

TED SIMONS: IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN, A LOT OF OFFENDERS, IF GIVEN THE TENTS, THEY WOULD GO TO THE TENTS.

TRACY HAGGARD: THEY PREFERRED THE TENTS BECAUSE IT GAVE A SENSE OF FREEDOM. WHEN YOU ARE AN INMATE IN A HOUSED FACILITY, YOU ARE RESTRICTED TO A DAY ROOM AND A CELL. THE TENTS, THEY ARE SENTENCED TO COUNTY TIME. THEY WOULD SPEND TIME AWAY FROM TENTS AT WORK. WHEN HE REMOVED TO TENTS, THEY HAD THE FREEDOM TO MOVE AROUND THE YARD.

TED SIMONS: THE TENT -- THE DINING HALL.

TRACY HAGGARD: IT'S CALLED THE DAY ROOM. INSIDE ARE TABLES AND LOCKER, T.V., PROGRAM ROOMS, THEY COULD RECEIVE PROGRAMMING, VISITATION AREA. IF IT WAS TOO HOT OR TOO COLD, THEY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO COME INSIDE THE DAY ROOM. IN ALL ACTUALITY THEY SPENT TIME IN THE TENTS TO SLEEP.

TED SIMONS: YOU DIDN'T HEAR MUCH ABOUT THAT, DID YOU?

TRACY HAGGARD: NO, SIR.

TED SIMONS: THE CURRENT SHERIFF SAID THE WHOLE THING WAS THOUGHT TO BE A CIRCUS ENFORCEMENT. DO YOU AGREE?

TRACY HAGGARD: THAT'S SHERIFF'S PENZONE'S OPINION. IT'S A VALID OPINION. MY OPINION ON THAT IS, ANYTIME YOU HAVE INDIVIDUALS FROM THE OUTSIDE, WHETHER THAT'S MEDIA, INDIVIDUALS COMING INTO A SECURED JAIL FACILITY FOR THE SAKE OF SEEING -- I GUESS I'LL USE THE CIRCUS, IT DETERS FROM WHAT WE ARE THERE TO DO. IT INTERFERES WITH DETENTION OFFICERS AND THEIR JOB AND FUNCTIONS. IT BECAME AN AREA WHERE WE SPENT MORE TIME GIVING TOURS TO INDIVIDUALS, AND USUALLY MEDIA AND REPORTERS, THAN WE WERE ABLE TO SPEND ON DOING OUR JOB.

TED SIMONS: WITH THAT IN MIND, LAST QUESTION, DOES THE DISMANTLING OF TENT CITY, HOW DOES THAT IMPACT MORALE AT THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT? OR DOES IT?

TRACY HAGGARD: I DON'T BELIEVE IT DOES. THE DETENTION STAFF, WE HAVE GOOD QUALITY MEN AND WOMEN THAT HAVE DETERMINED AND DECIDED TO TAKE ON THE ROLE OF DETENTION OFFICER FOR THE PURPOSE OF SERVING AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN DOING THEIR JOB. THEY'LL DO THAT AT THE DURANGO JAIL, 4TH AVE JAIL, THE TENT JAIL. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE THEY ARE ASSIGNED. THEY JUST WANT TO DO THEIR JOB. I THINK THEY DO.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU VERY MUCH. UP NEXT WE SEE HOW KIDS FAIRED IN THIS YEAR'S LEGISLATION.

Tracy Haggard: Chief, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

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