Criminal Defense Attorneys Applaud the Closing of Tent City

Recently, Sheriff Penzone announced the closure of Joe Arpaio’s infamous tent city jail.  He also announced the end to the pink underwear concept.  This is a good development and I’ll tell you why.

I know that it’s easy to think that “criminals” should be punished.  There’s no question that some people, especially some younger people, might need a little wake-up call.  As a criminal defense attorney who has spent a fair amount of time visiting clients in Maricopa County Jails, I can state that there is no doubt that time spent in any of our indoor jail facilities is sufficiently harsh to wake anyone up.  You could even make the argument that being outside in a tent could be substantially nicer than in a crowded pod at Lower Buckeye Jail.  Assuming it isn’t August.

And that’s the point.  Animal rights activists get upset when people leave their pets outside in 120 degree heat.  During a dust storm, conditions outside are intolerable and dangerous to people with asthma or other breathing difficulties.  The problem with tent city is that during the summer, it is cruel.  Cruel and unusual punishment is not allowed under the US Constitution.  I understand that some people would like to see a return to eye for an eye, but it isn’t the system we live under.  There’s no reason to subject people who have been convicted of lesser crimes and misdemeanors to outrageous and dangerous conditions.

As for the pink underwear, I have no opinion.


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