By Deb Allenbaugh
Chances are if you are reading this, you or someone you know is in need of some hope, help, and encouragement. This guide was written and donated for this very reason. Not only has the content of this guide been freely provided, the web design was also donated, as well as the editing and technical support. Perhaps even more valuable then the actual guide, is this page and its message of hope.
It only took one person to reach out with kindness and the course of my life was changed. It only took one person to find value in me when I could find no worth in myself. It only took one person to give of their time and I was no longer alone.
Be Encouraged! It is not an accident or fate that you have come across these words. It is because you are not alone. It is because you have worth and are valuable. Maybe it's because it's time for you to change your course too.
It didn't take rocket science for me to realize that I had made a complete mess of my life. I had made far too many foolish and unwise choices. I had lost everyone and everything. On top of that, I was now facing a terrifying judicial process that I knew nothing about. I did not have the will or the desire to go on with my life.
When I couldn't bear the thought of going on for one more day, one person's willingness to reach out, take a risk, and share the gifts of kindness and faith saved my life. It is truly that simple. Not only was my physical life saved that day, but from the moment I asked Jesus to come into my life, forgive my sins, and be my Lord and Savior, everything changed! I was given the gift of faith, hope, and love. I now believed that I was worthy, and that my life had value, if to no one else, to God. Instead of the constant problems and frustrations I was used to running into, I began experiencing peace and favor. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of work to do and there was no magic wand waved to make my problems disappear. What did happen, however, was I begin experiencing the blessings of a God. A God who is real!! He was waiting for me to invite Him into my life. It was the best choice I've ever made! He's waiting for you too. He longs for you to put your belief and trust in Him. He's waiting to show you what He can do for you. You have been created for a purpose, perhaps you even have a calling on your life to do something you've only dreamt about. It is not too late, in fact with God it is only the beginning.
It was not that long ago that I allowed the Lord to invade my life and He has been working miracles in it ever since. The fact that you are reading this may be one of the many miracles He's waiting to do for you.
He's helped me get through seemingly impossible situations. He's been my constant source of comfort and strength. He's helped restore my broken relationships and He's helped me make healthy new ones. He's truly provided abundance in every way!
This guide is a sign. It's your sign. He wants you to know He is delighting in you right at this very moment. He's showing you the way even now.
My name is Debra. I am a mother, a sister, and a friend. On Dec. 22nd, 2004 I was arrested while driving under the influence of alcohol. There is no excuse for my behavior. I deserved my punishment and not one single day goes by that I am not profoundly aware and thankful that I did not cause physical harm to another, am not dead myself, or "locked-up" for years.
As a result of my poor choices I was sentenced to a brief stay in Maricopa County "Tent City." I'd had no previous dealings with legal enforcement, and I was terrified about going to jail! I tried to get as much information as possible in an effort to calm my fears and prepare for my sentence. I found information hard to find which intensified my fears. It's my hope that this guide may relieve some stress and fear of others like myself who are facing a possible jail sentence. If you want to read more about my story visit www.tentcitysurvivalguide.com.
Newspaper articles and television news stories locally, nationally and internationally have made pink underwear, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Tent city world renown.
Tent City is actually two separate jails, In-Tents and Con-Tents that are part of a large jail system in Maricopa County and located close to one another. In-Tents jail is designed for inmates who have been sentenced to do their time straight through. In-Tents inmates are clothed in stripes and reside in two separate yards referred to as O Yard for female inmates and N Yard for male inmates. Con-Tents jail is designed for inmates who have been sentenced to Work Release (out up to 12 hours a day, up to 6 days a week with little restriction) or Work Furlough (out up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week with major restrictions including surveillance officers and daily costs). Both jails house inmates outside in military surplus tents. Each of these jails has hundreds of inmates living in the Arizona desert, housed in tents, without the benefit of air conditioning or heating. The conditions are Spartan at best, with few amenities. Each inmate has a metal bunk, with one metal drawer. The tents themselves are either twenty or forty man tents placed on a concrete slab. These tents are located in groups, called "yards", surrounded by chain link fences, some of which are electrified, topped with razor wire. Guard towers, lights and detention officers (never address them as "guards") help complete the picture. Conditions are so primitive that only sentenced inmates convicted of a crime are allowed to take up residence. It does become your "home" and is referred to as such.
This guide will provide an in depth look at Tent City, its living conditions and facilities. Tent City jails are inexpensive to build, maintain and operate. They are also easily expanded. Sheriff Joe has been quoted stating numerous times that, "what is good enough for our troops is fine for convicted criminals". Inmates are not coddled. Sheriff Joe believes tough conditions and treatment will lead to an improved recidivism rate. It is an attractive stance and philosophy that invites support from a large segment of the public.
Born June 14th, 1932 in Springfield Massachusetts, he's the child of immigrants from Naples, Italy. His mother died during childbirth; his father had little interest in raising young Joe, whose upbringing was left to whatever family members were willing to take him in. As a result of his father's abandonment, Arpaio spent is childhood being shuffled back and forth between different families.
Arpaio enlisted in the US Army and served from 1950 –1953. According to an April, 2001 article in Harper's magazine, Arpaio has stated that he is a veteran who served at the time of the Korean War.
Following his discharge, he moved to Washington D.C., and then to Las Vegas, Nevada, serving on the police force of both cities. He married Ava Arpaio in 1956. Some time afterward, Arpaio obtained a job as a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, working there for more than two decades. During that time he was stationed in both Turkey and Mexico and advanced to the position of position of head of the DEA's Arizona branch, where he served for four years before retiring.
Upon his initial election as sheriff of Maricopa County in 1992, Arpaio immediately began instituting changes in the jail. On August 3, 1993, he started the nation's largest Tent City for convicted inmates. Over 2000 convicted men and women serve their sentences in a canvas incarceration compound. It is a remarkable success story and has drawn the attention of government officials and media worldwide. Four years later, in 1996, after his policies had earned him unprecedented praise and an 85% public approval rating, no one even ran against him. He's currently the head of the nation's second largest Sheriff's Office.
He began to serve inmates surplus food, reducing meal costs to as low as .20 cents per day. To save money he banned coffee, smoking, and pornography magazines. He has removed the weightlifting equipment and cut off all but G-rated movies. There is a cable-TV system, which is mandated by court order.
Arpaio reinstituted chain gangs, which work six days a week contributing thousands of dollars of free labor to the community. The male chain gang, and the world's first female chain gang clean streets, paint over graffiti, and bury the indigent in the county cemetery.
Processing is just what it sounds like. MCSO processes inmates into and out of the jail system. Upon arrival to Tent City each person is "booked" in. Whether a person has the opportunity to self-report to jail or is arrested and delivered to the jail, the processing in steps are the same. It bears mentioning however, whenever someone has the luxury of self-reporting the time-frame can be considerably reduced.
A picture is taken and an ID card is made for each in-mate, fingerprints are taken and each in-mate is assigned a booking number. The picture ID card is given to each inmate at the time of processing in and it is important to always keep the ID in one's possession (except of course when showering). This progression may sound quick and simple, but the opposite is true. Processing times can vary from 3 hours to 24 hours, and even taking longer is not unheard of. All of this occurs while you are crowded into a holding tank with other inmates often for long periods of time. Space is at a minimum, so you usually have to stand. Sometimes you can sit down, and if you are extremely lucky you may have enough room to lie down. Of course, this will be on a cold and dirty concrete floor. There is a metal toilet with a water fountain/sink on top for your convenience. Privacy and toilet paper are valued commodities. Be prepared to "go to the bathroom" in front of your 20 new friends, and drink water from the top of the same metal toilet. "Courtesy flush" or "put some water on it" is a common audience request. Hopefully, your name isn't called while you are busy because you definitely don't want to miss any potential chance to move on to the next cell or to your tent.
Personal property and clothes are also key areas of attention during processing. If you are processing in, any unacceptable items are taken from you and stored in a property bag. If you are processing out, these items are returned to you, although you are not allowed to open them until after you are released.
While processing in, if you are going to a full custody yard (Tent City's In-Tents n and o yards for example) your clothes will be taken from you and added to your "property". You will be given a large plastic bag to put your shoes and clothes in. It is advisable to fold them neatly, you will wear them again (hopefully) in the not too far off future. This is when you receive your celebrated new wardrobe of "stripes" and pink underwear. In-mates' complete required outfit consists of a horizontally black and white striped top & bottom, pink boxers or underwear, pink socks and a pair of shower shoes/plastic sandals. In cold weather (when you are lucky) you may later get a pair of top & bottom pink thermals. This usually happens during clothing exchange when you have a job and work. The females additionally receive a pink sports bra. If you are processing in to go to Con-Tents to serve Work Furlough, Work Release or Overnight sentences you are able to remain in your civilian clothes as long as you are within the accepted clothing guidelines. Gloves, hats and hoods are not allowed.
Processing out is very similar to processing in. It doesn't necessarily go any faster, and in many cases often takes longer. Each in-mate will be told when they should expect to be processed out, the date only but not the time. It does happen on occasion that an in-mate might be called several hours early for processing out. It is important to listen to the overhead speakers for your name to be called. A name can be called at any time or hour. Ones name being called early is not a sign that processing out will go any faster or one will actually be released early. During the processing periods in-mates are given "Ladmo Bags" (bagged meals that may or may not have contents of edible food and drinks). When being released it is important to remember that your point of release will be different from your point of admittance. It's about a 20 minute walk from one spot to the other.
Each tent inside Tent City has a designated number of bunk bed (top/bottom) style bunks inside of it. These bunks are all sparse, plain metal-framed beds with a thin mattress on top. Each inmate is assigned a bunk number even before being "processed in" to Tent City. If you have a medical condition that would prevent you from sleeping safely on a top bunk, you should mention this immediately upon being "processed in" to Tent City. Each in-mate is given one sheet and one thin blanket (no pillow) once "processed in" that in-mates carry with them to their assigned tent and bunk. DO NOT ask for additional bedding blanket! During the chilly winter months it is very uncomfortable, especially during the night and early mornings. You will get cold. If in-mates have the fortune to be in the work furlough or work release programs they will be allowed to bring in a limited amount of their own clothing so plan to layer your clothes. Sometimes it is possible to get a departing in-mates blanket from them before they leave. You will not get in trouble if you have more than one blanket on your bunk. You can also use clothes or a blanket for a pillow. You will not be allowed to wear a beanie or a hat to keep your head warmer. Remember that the purpose of Tent City is to make inmates uncomfortable and discourage inmates from coming back. Joe Arpiao has a motto, 'If it's good enough for our enlisted men and our military troops-it's good enough for our prisoners!" If you are assigned to a top bunk DO NOT ask to switch once you arrive at your tent. You will be identified during the night and the daytime headcounts not only by your I.D. card but also by which bunk you are on (especially if you are sleeping during the many nighttime headcounts). You want to make sure that you are always in your assigned bunks during these headcount times. It is also advisable to keep your I.D. card with you at all times, including sleeping on your bunk. Inmates will be expected to show their I.D. cards to the D.O.s whenever asked, and every in-mate WILL be asked.
Gang activity is not prevalent inside Tent City. In-mate's allegiances inside Tent City appear to be racial association over gang association, at least during in-mates incarceration period. This is not to say that gang activity does not take place within Tent City, it does, but it is not widespread or too common. In-mates in the work release and work furlough yards need to avoid any complications that could be deemed violations from these programs strict rules for the simple fact that participation and work privileges could be lost.
Tent City facilities include a few coin operated washers and dryers in the bathroom/showers area. In-mates are allowed to do laundry as long as they have the monies to do so. Working machines are available on a first come first serve basis and are limited in number; it is not uncommon for machines to be out of order. In-mates can purchase certain laundering products from the vending machines at an additional cost.
Unfortunately no make-up products or toiletries of any kind are allowed into Tent City. This includes sanitary women's products such as tampons, pads or panty liners. Large sanitary pads are supplied free of charge in the women's bathrooms. Certain toiletries can be purchased from the vending machines such as travel size toothbrushes & toothpaste, aftershave, lotion, deodorant, razors, shampoo & conditioner to name a few.
Upon your arrival and "processing in" to Tent city you'll be expected to hand over any and all current medications that are prescribed to you and are currently taking. You'll be allowed to check in ONLY: unexpired, doctor prescribed medicine(s), in your name, and they must be in their original container(s). Additionally, the entire label needs be in tact. There will be NO exceptions. Any and all other medications or medicines will not be allowed in. It bears mentioning that any illegal drugs or substances found in your possession will not only be confiscated, but will follow with your arrest and additional charges will be brought against you. There will be no warning or second chances!!!
During your stay at Tent City you'll turn your medicines over to the staff during your processing in period. They will not be allowed to be in your possession again until you are processed out with the exception of "Med Call". You'll need to listen for the overhead PA system to announce these Med Calls. When you hear the call or meds you'll report to an appointed window and you will be given your dose or doses of medication to take. "Med Calls" are called once in the morning and once in the evening. It's important to be aware that it's not uncommon for meds to be missed or given at unusual times. With thousands of inmates to care for, Tent City runs on it's own time table and does not adjust it's schedule for each individual inmate to be given medication when they may be used to taking them (or even need to take them). You'll learn to become flexible or you'll become miserable- it's your choice. The purpose of this guide is to inform you of just such situations. It's important to be mentally prepared for your routine to become anything but...routine.
With thousands of dollars in wrongful death suits paid and pending it's best to cover all your bases when it comes to medications. One such base is being informed about using the phones if you have an emergency or need that arise.
Church Services & 12 Step meetings are available to Tent city inmates. The dates, times, and locations of 12 Step meetings and church services are posted at the D.O.'s & P.O.'s offices on a bulletin board. The meeting days & times change frequently. Inmates in the work release and/or work furlough program usually have a brief orientation that covers general information including meeting and church information. It is also advisable to ask about the different yards meeting's days and times during the processing in period. Be forewarned however that not all questions are answered correctly, politely, or even answered at all.
No inmate is required or expected to go to any meeting or church gathering. If an inmate has a desire to go to church, Tent City provides a non-denominational service to any and all inmates who desire to attend.
It is important to be aware that the building where you are "processed in" is not the same building that you are "processed out". If you are leaving your car at the starting entrance you will have a bit of a walk when you are released. The same is true if you think ahead and park your vehicle at the exit site, you will need to hike a bit over to the entrance. It's approximately ½ mile.
Drivers with current tags, registration and valid licenses who are participating in the work release/work furlough programs have the option to leave their vehicle in a designated dirt lot just outside the Tent City gates. This dirt lot is directly in front of surveillance towers that are manned with guards most of the time. This dirt lot has many rather large pot-holes, and with a little rain appears to be more of an off-road track that is challenging for triple shocked pre-runners. The lot is checked on occasion to verify current tags are on vehicles. Because of the manned surveillance cameras overlooking the lot it is highly advisable to not hang-out by your or anyone else's vehicle. Just because you are not inside the Cities gates does not mean you aren't being watched.
In-mates are allowed to make collect calls from designated payphones that are in both the In-Tents and Con-Tents jails of Tent City. Payphones may be used once an in-mates booking number has been processed through, usually about 24 hours. Each in-mate is given an I.D. card that has a booking number printed on it, that number will be needed to make each collect call. When making the first collect call from the pay phones, the system will ask for the in-mates name, that name will be recorded and used each time someone answers on the other end. Along with the in-mates name, there will also be a brief message informing the recipient of the call, "that this call is being placed from an in-mate at Maricopa County Jail". Collect calls cannot be placed to cell phones or land lines that don't accept collect calls. The calls average around $5.00 per call and are limited to approximately 15 minutes. Calls are also taped and/or recorded.
During your sentence and stay inside Tent City you lose your right and privilege to smoke. If you are in the work release and/or work furlough program you can resume your smoking habit once you are off Tent City property. Cigars, cigarettes, matches, lighters & smoking paraphernalia of any kind is prohibited from being brought inside Tent City. Tent City has a very strict NO SMOKING policy and that policy is strictly enforced. It has been rumored that in spite of this strict NO SMOKING policy, smoking still goes on inside Tent City. You will not be allowed to bring any smoking products or smoking paraphernalia inside Tent City with you when you are "processed in". If you are on work release or work furlough and you are caught with any of the above mentioned on your person, in your possession, or caught smoking them while you are sentenced inside Tent City, you will be "rolled up" and you will lose your work release/work furlough privileges. You will then be required to finish the remainder of your sentence doing your time "straight". It bears mentioning that it is also highly likely that if you are caught or seen standing by or near another inmate whose caught smoking inside Tent City, even if you are not smoking, you will be rolled up along with the person who was smoking. It is advised that if someone near you or by you lights up and proceeds to smoke anything of any kind that you get away from them as quickly as possible so you are not seen associating with someone smoking. "Association" can cause the same problems for you inside Tent City as it can on the outside world we live in.
Con-Tents yard has a T.V. Tent as well as In-Tent yard. Both sets are turned off during head counts and during restrictions. Usually the television is on sports or a popular evening show or series. The In-Tents television is typically on 24 hours a day. Television privileges are taken away as a punishment to the entire yard for various reasons. The channel cannot be changed without permission from a detention officer and the remote is not always available because it is often misplaced or lost.
Visitation is no longer allowed at Tent City's Con-Tent yard. Tent City's In-Tent yard does allow visitation during visiting hours. If anyone coming to visit an in-mate has any outstanding warrants they will be arrested. Visitors must be dressed appropriately and not provocatively or they will not be allowed in to visit. Children can visit in-mates as long as they are with an adult. Visits are non-contact, and person(s) can be seen on video monitors and talk over telephones. They are limited in number
Obviously there is no good time to go to jail. Seasonally speaking however, since Tent city is an outdoor jail facility in the Phoenix area, there is a more pleasant time to be incarcerated. Just like "on the outside" the worst summer months are July, August and September. There is NO air-conditioning whatsoever for the in-mates. It can be very uncomfortable 24/7, and the tents usually have a large fan at one or both ends. The overall mood of everyone seems to be effected by the extreme heat, in-mates and guards alike.
As for Mr. Winter, the most uncomfortable months are December, January and February. There is, of course, no heaters for the in-mates, and often no hot water for showers. These winter/summer tough months just make Tent city that much more challenging to endure. The best one can do is be as mentally and physically prepared as possible.
During your stay at In-Tents, you are clothed in "stripes" with pink underwear, pink socks, pink thermals (in winter), and pink sports bras (sorry these are only for the women). The only personal items you are allowed are glasses or your own shoes, with a medical permission slip. You are not allowed to have your watch or any jewelry. Books, magazines and newspapers are acceptable within limitations (mailed from the publisher, and adhering to subject and decency standards). Letters and pictures (of course no skin) are also okay just don't accumulate an excessive amount. Everything else must be purchased through commissary. The only exception is for basic hygiene articles, which are provided. These consist of razors (dull & used w/o shaving cream which is not available), toothbrushes (only a few inches long), toothpaste (mini tubes good for a few uses) and soap (cheap bars that dry out your skin the size you use to get in motels). Occasionally a limited amount of cheap black combs will be distributed. Basic reading glasses are additionally available from the chaplain, as are bibles.
(Work Release, Work Furlough, and Overnighters)
If you are lucky enough to do your time in Con-Tents, the great news is that you get to wear your own clothes. It is amazing how much more human you feel when you are allowed to wear your own things. This also helps you adjust to the seasons and the huge variances in temperatures you are going to experience while domiciled in the tents
First, let me address Overnighters. You are allowed to bring the clothes you are wearing, a watch, a wallet with up to forty dollars and a book. If it is cold, layer and wear thermals. Some officers will let you bring in a beanie or a jacket with a hood if you don't wear them during intake.
Work Release allows the same as above, plus a towel, a small battery operated clock and a small flashlight.
Work Furlough allows everything above plus approximately 5 sets of clothes. This would be socks, underwear, shirts, pants etc. You may also bring a couple of jackets or coats. I say approximately, because it varies from D.O. to D.O., and from day to day. Work Furlough inmates are constantly bringing clothes in and out for a variety of reasons. They purchase new clothes, have their laundry done, or just bring different clothes. Once you adjust to the system, you shouldn't experience many problems. Try not to get too excessive in your jail wardrobe, though; the drawers are limited in size, and searches occur randomly in the tents looking for any violations of the policies.