Demonstrators organizing protest outside Tent City

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by Steve Ryan

Bio | Email | Follow: @SteveRyan3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 7 at 8:00 PM

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Human rights activists with the advocacy group "Puente" are organizing a protest of the Maricopa County jail known as Tent City.

However, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio defends the facility's record over the past two decades.

Healthy, low-level inmates at the jail are required to sleep outside in tents. 

"I'd rather be in a traditional jail building, because it's hot.  [Detention officers give us] water, but it's warm. But I'm fed alright," said inmate Kenny Chaffino.

However, dozens of protesters tell 3TV it's not alright.  They want the jail shut down. 

"The inmates could be found other places to be detained. Also, there are alternatives to detention. There are ankle bracelets. There are other ways people can be restored and brought back into a community. They don't have to be subjected to being in tents in this weather," said protest organizer Carlos Garcia.

Sheriff Arpaio said that over the past couple of decades most of the half-a-million inmates who have passed through Tent City haven't suffered any major medical issues. 

"I'm very proud of the tents. It's humane. How could it not be after 20 years? Do you think I need these demonstrators this time of year, an election year, to come in front of the tents and say it's awful?  Where have they been the past 20 years," said Arpaio.

The protest is scheduled for the evening of June 23rd. 

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