If you'd told us last week that one day we'd be sweatin' it out in a makeshift, outdoor jail in the Arizona desert as the 79-year-old sheriff of one of the largest counties in the country sang a duet with an Elvis impersonator -- as female inmates threw pink panties at him -- we honestly wouldn't have been too surprised; this is Maricopa County under the Joe Arpaio regime/reality show.
Arpaio celebrated his infamous Tent City's 18th birthday today by unveiling a monument in the middle of one of his female "housing" units -- his name, of course, dominates the granite marker.
Female inmates laughed and sang along as Arpaio belted out Frank Sinatra's "My Way" with the help of a detention officer dressed as Elvis.
Of course, Arpaio was certain to point out, he once busted the real Elvis in Las Vegas (decades ago).
At first glance, the inmates seemed to be having a blast -- several served as dancers who swayed behind "Elvis" as he sang "Jailhouse Rock" and many laughed along as the sheriff joked about the heat. However, when the inmates lined up to get a piece of cake and a cup of ice cream (the ice cream cups expired a year ago, as one deputy nervously pointed out. "That's alright, though" he then said) we had a chance to speak to some of the gals when they weren't under the sheriff's watchful eye.
"We don't want cake and ice cream," one inmate tells New Times, "we want some fucking air conditioning."
Another inmate, who was seen joking around with the sheriff when he first took the podium, told us how she really feels about America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"I fucking hate him (Arpaio)," the inmate said while helping herself to a piece of cake. "This shit goes in a jail? Really?"
Arpaio's opponent in next year's GOP primary for sheriff, Scottsdale Lieutenant Mike Stauffer, finds the sheriff's latest charade as ridiculous as the inmates.
See a note Stauffer posted on his Facebook page about today's "Joe Show" below:
Arpaio is at it again showboating a facility that has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuits. This out-of-control facility has done nothing to impact or deter crime in any way. In fact, the so-called tent city is riddled with drugs, gangs, felony assaults, etc. It is unsecure and has several escapes a week due to Arpaio's continued neglect. With only one detention officer per yard in tent city, your safety is in question as is the safety and well being of the detention officers assigned to this facility.
As Arpaio erects a monument to himself, we should all continue to question the 400 un-investigated sex crimes cases, the over 6000 lawsuits, the deteriorating technology, the long response times, the misappropriated taxpayer funds, looming federal investigations, etc...
It's time for a new sheriff, who will spend his time focusing on your safety, your quality of life, and the safety of the employees of MCSO, not desperately and pathetically trying to promote himself.