PHOENIX, March 15 (UPI) — Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane, condemned the conditions in Phoenix’s notorious “tent city” jail after taking a surprise tour of the facility with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio, dubbed “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” showed up on Monday as Sanders was to visit the makeshift extension to the Maricopa County Jail. The facility is often criticized for its punishing conditions.
Arpaio is a controversial figure due to previous crackdowns on undocumented migrants, which ended in 2014 when his office was found to have racially profiled Latinos during traffic stops.
Sanders was planning to view conditions through the jail’s fence ahead of a Bernie Sanders’ rally in Phoenix, but Arpaio showed up and offered to take her on a tour. He said he “invited her inside so I could defend my tent policy,” adding that he was “now waiting for Hillary” Clinton and also invited Bernie Sanders.
Arpaio created the “tent city” jail about 20 years ago by using U.S. Army surplus tents in an effort to address overcrowding. He argues the policy saves tax dollars at the expense of inmate’s comfort.
Jane Sanders criticized the sheriff for failing to answers questions about the jail’s conditions, but said he admitted that temperatures in tents can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and that he’s taken all meat out of prisoner’s meals.
“What I saw and heard firsthand today by visiting with the families and seeing tent city was very disturbing,” she said in a news release. “Sheriff Arpaio did not even attempt to explain or excuse his inhumane treatment of people of color — not that he could.”