Sheriff Arpaio plans chain gangs near All-Star Game

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by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

azfamily.com

Posted on July 7, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 7 at 6:23 PM

PHOENIX - Sheriff Joe Arpaio says his chain gangs will be sending important messages to tourists and baseball fans, warning them not to drink and drive.

The chain gangs, made of men and women, legal citizens and illegal immigrants, are all volunteer convicts from Maricopa County jails.

Arpaio says the convicts, in their black, white, and pink uniforms, will be around downtown Phoenix during Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities over the next week.

"Coming in, I hope [visitors] all see the chain gangs and it reminds them not to drink and drive, because if they do, they'll end up in one of our jails, which are pretty hot these days," the sheriff explained.

Critics of the plan include several county and state officials, who fear the chain gangs will create a different, negative image for tourists and TV viewers.

"I think it sends a message that Arizona is a crime-ridden state, and we're not," says State Representative Ruben Gallego of Phoenix.

"Arpaio is trying to get publicity, to the detriment of Arizona and the state's image," Gallego added.

The sheriff is not concerned about an image problem, and says his chain gangs have worked around the Superbowl when it was in Glendale in 2008, as well as the Phoenix Open.

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