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The first riot took place in 1996, when inmates protested about conditions inside.

But it also cast a dark mark on Phoenix and attracted criticism from civil rights groups who called Arpaio's methods needlessly harsh.

Paul Penzone, a Democrat and retired Phoenix police sergeant, was elected on the promise of rolling back existing law enforcement policies he viewed as purposeless and self-aggrandizing. At the press conference, Penzone asserted that there will be more than enough space in the five other detention centers in the county to house the remaining inmates from Tent City.

On Tuesday, the new sheriff in town announced he would shut it down completely.

Critics said the complex was a way for Arpaio to garner media attention and contributed to a culture of cruelty within his jails.

"It's not a crime deterrent".

The tents created this ovenlike effect so even though they were open air, the temperature inside them would somehow climb higher than the outside temperature, sometimes higher than 130 degrees.

Penzone said the challenges of the hot summer months had a greater impact on his detention officers, who wear full gear, than the inmates.

In one especially egregious case from 2013, 61-year-old Arthur Madril died in his bunk while serving in a work release program for a US$4,000 child support bunker. They're there for low-level misdemeanor offenses - many for DUI convictions.

During Tuesday's news conference, Penzone painted a different picture, stating that inmates were given more freedom at Tent City compared to other jails.

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During his campaign, Penzone hinted that he would shutter Tent City, but often emphasized the importance of basing that decision not on conjecture or gut instincts, but data and fact.

"Closing Tent City doesn't mean you aren't going to jail in Maricopa County". "Too many jails in this country are just shy of being like hotels", Arpaio once said.

Penzone put this new committee together in his first 100 days and said they would be in charge of major issues affecting the Sheriff's Office and nearly immediately he tasked them with figuring out what to do with Tent City.

"I think he's insulting all the circus people", said Arpaio, referencing Sheriff Penzone's quote that the "circus ends".

Sheriff Penzone stated that the facility does not deter criminals, is not cost efficient, and is not tough on criminals.

The outdoor prison was built by then-warden and six-term Sheriff Arpaio in 1993 using hundreds of Korean War-era Army surplus tents.

Over its 24-year life, though, it morphed into a symbol of Arpaio's showy public image.

The tents were popular among voters who believed jail is supposed to be a hard place to live. The Arizona Republic, the New York Times and the Washington Post have stories.

Hepburn found Arpaio's tactics - the whole tough-on-crime thing - it had no impact.


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