Tent City inmates brace for freeze

Inmates get creative to escape cold temps

PHOENIX - Inmates at Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Tent City are actually getting into trouble on purpose to escape the freezing temperatures overnight, they said.

"If you break the rules, they take you inside," one inmate said.

On Monday night, there were roughly 1,000 men and women locked up in the outdoor jail facility near 27th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road. These inmates at Tent City have already been convicted of their crimes.

"It makes it to where I never want to come back here," said Emily Stokes, an inmate.

Those words are exactly what Sheriff Arpaio wants to hear. "If you don't like it, don't commit a crime," Arpaio told ABC15.

The jail opened in 1993, making these the coldest nights the jail's ever seen.

Inmates are getting creative with the pink clothing provided to them, some wearing socks around their heads and towels around their neck.

"It gets really cold in the middle of the night," said Eric Claxton, another inmate. Claxton uses extra mattresses to cover the edges of the tent, hoping to block out any wind.

"I have seven blankets," Claxton said. "Normally, we're only allowed to have five."

The staff at Tent City has requested all available blankets from the other MCSO facilities, but currently, supplies are at their limit.

In addition to allowing extra blankets, the jail has also started serving broth with meals.

One sergeant told ABC15 that Tent City originally had heaters during the winter, but had to remove them when inmates tried to make weapons out of them.

Sheriff Arpaio points out that American troops have it worse than the inmates. "Our men and women are fighting for our country in cold weather," he said. "The people in the tents have committed crimes, and I'm sure they can withstand a little cold weather."

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