Sheriff Paul Penzone announces Tent City Closure

POSTED:APR 04 2017 02:17PM MST
UPDATED:APR 04 2017 03:24PM MST

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone announced Tuesday that Tent City, a controversial county detention facility that began operations during the tenure of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, will be closed down.

Sheriff Penzone made the announcement, during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, saying the facility is not cost effective, and there is no "empirical evidence" that the facility reduces crime.

"Today, the circus ends, and the tents come down," said Sheriff Penzone, during the news conference.
A diverse advisory review committee that was headed by former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods was created by Penzone to weigh in on the fate of Tent City, along with other programs created by Arpaio.

A number of members on the review committee, including Woods, were present at the news conference. Woods read the committee's conclusion on Tent City in English, while another member repeated it in Spanish.

Tent City, according to Woods, began operations in 1993. According to a statement released after the news conference's conclusion, an average of 700 to 800 inmates are detained at the facility in recent years, Meanwhile, Penzone said staffing levels have remained the same, as the number of inmates at Tent City fell.

"Economically, it's a problem now," said Woods.

Penzone did not disclose future plans for the facility, but did say the facility's closure could result in a projected $4.5 million in savings. Penzone also said he did not give former Sheriff Joe Arpaio advanced notice of his decision.

During the news conference, Penzone said at least half of the people currently detained at Tent City will be moved to secure facilities, within the first 45 to 60 days after the announcement Tuesday.