Female chain gang to spread word about drinking and driving: This could be you

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PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the only female chain gang in the country and now he’s putting them to work with a new message – don’t drink and drive.

The crew will be out in force for the Fourth of July weekend and continue into MLB All-Star weekend.

“We have to send message about drinking and driving,” Arpaio said. “It’s a true message when you have convicted people here – women … who have the signs ‘Don’t drink and drive.’ … It’s a deterrent effect.”

All of the members of the female chain gang, which dates back to 1996, are volunteers. They’re all incarcerated at Tent City. The sheriff’s chain gangs are generally free labor charged with cleaning up the Valley’s communities. They can often been seen picking up trash.

The members of this particular chain gang are all convicted DUI offenders. They’ll be wearing the usual black-and-white striped uniforms and pink T-shirts, but it’s what’s on those shirts – bold messages about drinking and driving – that make this group unique.

Arpaio wants to make it clear that if you’re convicted of drinking and driving in Maricopa County, you could find yourself on one of his chain gangs.

“I hope the public sees this. I hope they read the wording,” the sheriff said. “I hope they don’t drink and drive.”

Arpaio has not decided where the chain gangs, which are out daily, will be working in the coming weeks.

“We’ll see where there’s some trash,” he said.