By Jack Cahill ’17
Sheriff Joseph Arpaio modified the Maricopa County Jail in the 1990s, which is now better known as “Tent City.”
In the years since its creation, Tent City has been the subject of numerous debates, mainly due to the fact that it is nothing more than a array of Korean-War-era tents in the desert that house inmates.
Debates regarding whether or not Tent City is ethical and fair have plagued Arpaio’s administration. Sure, it’s tough on criminals, but is it humane?
Prisoners have claimed that Tent City is nothing but abuse, as there is no relief from the desert heat, to the point where the shoes of inmates have melted. Furthermore, temperatures have risen to a whopping 145 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Tent City because of the extreme desert heat.
For these reasons, I agree with the inmates when they say that Tent City is unfair, unethical and a violation of human rights.
I’m not arguing that inmates should be treated to pleasant conditions, but they should not be subject to horrible conditions.
Furthermore, I believe that places like Tent City do not help inmates better themselves, therefore it does not help the public good.
“There has to be a restorative outcome for both the prisoner, victim and society as a whole when it comes to the punishment of crime,” said Ms. Megan McDonald, a religion teacher at Brophy. “Those serving time should be not made pleasant, but it should not be intentionally made unpleasant by denying basic human comforts. If one of those aspects is compromised especially in the name of punishment or revenge then I think it can be deemed unethical.”
Not only do I view Tent City as ethically wrong, but I also believe that it violates the Catholic teaching on human dignity.
“There is also clear Catholic teaching about Human Dignity—something that should be respected at all times,” Ms. McDonald said. “Human Dignity means every person has value, is worthy of great respect and must be free from slavery, manipulation and exploitation.”
Ultimately, Arpaio’s Tent City is not only unfair and unethical, but it also does not benefit society and public order.
Tent City violates Catholic teaching about Human Dignity, which is why I believe that Brophy students and Arizonans should not only question the prison, but also demand a better solution.