Tent City, Maricopa County’s open-air jail notorious for hosting inmates wearing pink underwear in the blistering summer heat, will shut down, according to Sheriff Paul Penzone.
Penzone made the announcement Tuesday based on the recommendation of an advisory committee that he appointed after taking office in January.
The tents served as a prominent symbol of Penzone’s predecessor, Joe Arpaio, who erected the facility in 1993, his first year in office, and held it up as an inexpensive solution to overcrowded jails. Penzone defeated Arpaio in last year’s general election, ending his 24-year span as sheriff.
At an afternoon press conference Tuesday, Penzone said Tent City has become the preferred location for inmates and a liability for understaffed detention officers. Shuttering the facility will save the county approximately $4.5 million a year, he said.