I spent 15 days in Joe Arpaio's "Tent City" for an underage extreme DUI. I was 18 at the time. AMA
It was the first and only time I've ever been in trouble with the law. I made the stupid decision to drink and then drive home from a friends house. I got field tested and arrested in my own driveway. I was 18 at the time.
There was roughly $10,000 in fees (court fees, lawyer...which was a family friend/got a discount, alcohol classes, ignition interlock for a year, the list goes on).
I spent 15 days in Tent City, followed (immediately after) with 15 days of house arrest, and a bunch of other penalties/consequences.
The food was complete crap. I learned some pretty interesting concoctions from other inmates that get quite McGyver like..heh. Did you know you can cook a burrito in a dryer's lint catcher? Yeah. There were tons of drugs available. Cigarettes. Alcohol. Heroine. Pills. Lots of "spice" but very little weed because the smell is so distinct. Umm, processing in consisted of about 8 hours in a cement cell with about 10-20 others (fluctuated throughout the hours), no pillows for sleeping besides a (clean..looking) toiler paper roll) and thats it. Open toilet in front of everyone with the water fountain on top of the toilet (built into it). At one point we were packed like sardines only for about a half hour, but about 60 of us in two side by side rooms (mesh/metal screen inbetween both rooms). Each room was seriously about 8 ft long by 6ft wide. Tiny. You literally could not move, everyone was standing smushed together for the entire duration. It got so hot from all the body heat alone, that the windows fogged up to where you almost couldn't see through them.
Ask me anything about the DUI process here in Arizona, or about Tent City! I'll answer all I can. This is a throwaway but I'm an avid redditor so needless to say I know how this works, lets do this.
It's jail, but you're outside in these big military style tents with bunk beds. In Phoenix, and I was there in the summer; So needless to say it gets pretty toasty. They pay more for their dog food than they do for their inmate food apparently.
You said it was easy to get drugs, how did they get in? How much did they cost?
Not too sure on prices since I didn't do any of them, but I know they were seriously close to street prices if not a small premium. Got offered to smoke spice (which they called "chicken", funny story on how I figured that one out..) for free.
I witnessed some guy next to my bunk get hooked on pills, "lose" his wallet and was just a whole mess and came out with an addiction he didn't come in with.
Super easy. I'm talking...retardedly easy. For example, one distinct moment, if you get caught smoking cigarettes (against the rules but yet they're pretty "chill" about it if you aren't a douchebag, on the way in they said cigarettes are against the rules but the guard said "if you pay more than $2 each though, you're getting ripped off" which I laughed at.), anyway, this guy got caught smoking and if you get caught they make you clean up trash or something like that for an hour or two.
He was walking by asking us if we some trash, and word for word this is what he said "Got any trash?...[looks around a tiny bit] Want some morphine?" someone next to me sounded interested (i just said nah man no thanks) and asked what it was like and he related it to heroin. He's like "you want some man I got it on me right now".
There was more drugs in that small yard than there probably were in the 10 mile radius of the jail...seriously.
Did you wear the pink underwear?
There's two totally separate areas. The "N-yard" which is for the inmates who committed more serious crimes and were there for longer. They had the striped jumpsuit and pink underwear, etc. They had to change in front of everyone on the processing in as well (get naked in front of like 20 dudes).
Luckily, being my first offense and I "had a job" (work for myself, Judge was pretty lenient since it was a first offense..ever.. for me), I got what's called Work Release.
Work Release means on the weekdays, I got to leave at 7am and had to be be back by 7pm to spend the night there. You had to spend the whole weekends there as well (60 hours total). But you also got to wear your civilian clothes, and that alone was quite awesome. Thank god.
I have a friend who spent three months* in there for a DUI. She filled out notebooks full of stuff about her experience.
Could possible see if she would be interested in adding some extra insight. *Turns out it may have only been a month and a half but it damn well felt longer.
That's kinda neat. I absolutely suck at drawing (like...horrible) but I did doodle a bit, read a bit, attempted to learn the basics of a new language with a "for dummies" book, and just thought about life alot and what I had planned for once all that shit was over with.
3 months, must have been a 2nd or 3rd offense and/or maybe an aggravated DUI? Dang, that's a longgg time to be there.
Are normal everyday people reluctant to have any interaction with the police where you are? I can't imagine cops that are more likely to mess you up than criminals are. (I live in Australia)
Not quite sure what you meant by that? Can you elaborate?
I talk to police all the time if I see them in person, and am thankful for what they do; I broke the law, was stupid, and got caught. I deserved it, and I'm actually glad it happened in a weird way. Otherwise I seriously don't think I would have stopped and learned my lesson. Sounds cliche but whatever.
What was the original offense you were pulled over for? Generally a person has a light out or rolls a stop sign or something that gives the officer probable cause to pull you over.
Speeding. That was it, wasn't swerving or anything (not that it matters, just saying). I think I was going like 55 in a 45, that's when they saw me, then apparently I did like 55 in a 30...which I believe is technically felony speeding (but they never ever even mentioned that, and dropped all speeding charges). By the time I noticed the lights, I was about .2-.3 miles away from my house. Wasn't even mad (being drunk), I moreso though it was "fake" or "not happening" or idk, I kinda just went with the flow...accepted my fate, I guess you could say. Was honest and nice with the guys. They got me.
But yeah it was also in my very own driveway when I got field tested/arrested and whatnot.
That sucks... you should have screamed BASE and ran inside.
Not sure what BASE stands for but my lawyer said If I would have ran inside since I was right there, they would have knocked but would have needed a warrant to get in, and they wouldn't have gotten a warrant for someone just speeding at the time.
While I thought that was interesting, running was the last thing I thought of. I did the crime and I got my punishment, pleaded guilty right off the bat; didn't waste anyones time, I know what I did and lying to myself or anyone else about it wouldn't help.
Is there really such thing as felony speeding? You can lose your right to vote because you did 20 over?
I believe so, or so I've heard. I thought it was 25 over the speed limit was technically criminal (felony) speeding, but I could totally be wrong.
Where did you get pulled over at?
Noticed the lights about a third of a mile away from my house and pulled into my driveway.
What was the weirdest thing you learned?
What was the worst day inside & why?
Did you witness any off the wall crazy shit?
Umm, the weirdest thing I learned from the whole experience was that you could cook a burrito in the lint catcher of a dryer. (They sold cold/frozen-ish burritos in one of the vending machines).
Also some people put a few things like the plastic cheese wiz, some hot sauce stuff, and im really not sure what else but I know there was like 2 other ingredients, into a water bottle, tied to a string, then threw it on top of the tents, and let it cook in the sun; then put that mixture onto their dinner (which sucked) and apparently it made it much more tolerable.
Worst day? No real days stand out actually! They all sucked equally. The first day, I was just glad to be done with processing. Which took forever, halfway through that you're just excited to get to the tents and finally be able to sleep/"relax".
I guess if I'd have to say, the last day was my worst. And best. I didn't know for sure if it would be my last day, and it was Father's Day the next day, and tons of people get called out a day or two early; so I had my hopes up that I would get called out even though I technically had like 2 more days in there.
Well I snuck in 4 tylenol PM's in case I had get called out, because by then we knew it took just as long to process out then processing in took, so I wanted to be able to hopefully sleep through some of it being in a cement cell and all.
Well, I got called out. Happy as hell, got out like a day and a half early; and mainly, for fathers day (ended up getting out at 3am on fathers day), I took the 4 tylenol's as soon as they called my name along with 40 or 50 others on the loudspeaker.
I was drowsy and hell, and the whole time, due to the conditions we were in, I didn't sleep for one second. So I was a zombie the whole time. Took about 5 or 6 hours to process out.
Besides the awful feeling of being cramped in a tiny cell with everyone before you get released, the most memorable thing I remember was being told, 'See you next time.' as I was leaving the building.
Ouch, I believe they said that to me as well. Cheeky fucks. But to be honest I think it's quite true for the majority of people that go in.
Are you going to drink and drive again?
Never. Haven't since, and have actually took a bunch of friends keys after they were drinking and mentioned driving home. I have too many goals and all of them would go down the drain if I did something like that again; Plus I realize how fucking stupid and inconsiderate it was. I don't get to decide to put other peoples lives in danger just for my own convenience.
Do you think your punishment was excessive?
A little bit. Luckily I was caught in a "good time" I guess. I had a bit of money saved up and had a motorcycle I had paid for on my own, which I had to sell, but anyway I paid all my fees up front and fully by myself. My Mother was willing to pay/help out, but there was no way I could let her pay for mistakes. So I'm happy to say I paid for all of the fees entirely by myself, upfront too with no optional payment plans.
But yeah; It was a very stupid thing, and I deserved punishment no doubt; But it was excessive. 30 days of jail (15 days in jail, 15 days house arrest which was a semi new program/option the just started allowing) a full year of ignition interlock device on my truck; and that's AFTER my license was suspended for 90 days then on a restricted license for a while; forgot exacltly how long. 36 hours of mandatory alcohol classes (18 sessions, 2 hours each on friday from 5pm to 7pm, $25 cost each time), and an array of other crap.
In other words, for people that weren't financially prepared/lucky enough, their life can be ruined from a first offense. So much money, so much crap that intereferes/takes over your life as you know it. I got lucky as I said; But for your average person, It's incredibly hard to come back from something like that. So while I agree a harsh punishment may be necessary for a DUI, that was simply too much.
What did the alcohol classes consist of? I'm guessing a complete waste of your time either way.
Yeah it was pretty ridiculous. It wasn't AA but it was something close to it. You meet up, sit in a big circle of chairs in a room without AC in a building where it's empty and crappy and all they have are these empty rooms and one water jug machine with paper cups in the center.
You talk about imaginary scenarios totally unrelated to drinking or drugs, introduce yourself on your first session about what you did to get in there, what you do (job), etc etc., you do some group based activities, and didn't even talk much about drinking and driving besides 'cracking jokes' about tent city (one thing basically all of us had in common). People even shared their 'techniques' on how to avoid the breathalyzer in their car if you've been drinking. I always thought to myself, not drinking in the first place was a great technique, but they were saying stuff like if you bite fully into a lemon right before exhaling into the breathalyzer, the acid of the lemon burns the alcohol vapors or something rather.
How was the food in tent city?
There were 6 vending machines as I kinda explained in another comment now. They refilled all 6 literally every single morning (that's how much everyone used them). The girls on the other side only got to use them twice a day and were escorted to them and basically hoarded shit, which is understandable, since they're on our/the guy side and we had more access to them.
But one vending machine had all supplies like soap, razors for shaving, acne cream, and other basic hygiene products, 3 others were food, 2 were drink machines (soda, water; plastic bottles). They had lunchables even (the turkey cracker sandwich ones) which I actually like alot haha so I was happy with that (if they were in stock, if we had access to the machines, and if the machine wasnt down..that is). They had tons of candy (starburts, hot tomales, etc etc..) but you have no idea how sick you get of candy if that's basically all you have. They had cheese packets, weird gross spicy sausage snacks, stuff like that.
As far as the actual meals, the breakfast was eatable...bread, an orange, some peanut butter, and i think thats it... you had to wake up for it, I only got it on weekends if anything.
Dinner.. I only tried that once to say I tried it. It sucked. I ate like 1/10th of it and threw it away.
On the weekends i just survived on vending machine stuff basically, and weekdays id eat alot before I had to come back and snack just a little bit if i got hungry later.
You've mentioned that the dinner sucked, but what was it, exactly? Something like nutriloaf?
It was a bread roll, some chili-like meat slop that was cold and rubbery on the bottom, an orange I think, and possibly some canned vegetables type crap. I only had it once and and basically the only thing I had was the bread roll besides the tiniest bit of the meat slop just to see what it tasted like.
edit; Oh, beans! They had refried beans. But these weren't your average refried beans. It appears as brown cement on your plate, smooth kind of gritty texture, and weren't HORRIBLE they just had NO FLAVOR. No salt in it what so ever, absolutely bland. Just mush that happened to look like beans, they don't put salt in anything I think (or as little as absolutely possible) to save on costs.
any showers in tent city?
Yeah there's open showers and sinks with mirrors you could hardly see through since they had weird permanent streaks/wear on them and some wear broken, and open toilets. The showers were in a seperate room and I never took a shower there since I had work release (and just manned up for the weekends and didnt shower).
I also managed to never take one shit there for the 15 days I was there, see the other comment about work release...but still...it took some luck/skill, ha.
so you didnt shit for an entire weekend??
Yup. Magic. I know.
What did you do while you were there? What is the set up like? Are there buildings or tents for things like a cafeteria and gym?
There were like 6-8 LARGE dark green military style tents, each with two rows of metal bunk beds and super thin workout-type mats as mattresses. Cement floors, cockroaches, and the most annoying fucking MASSIVE gnat infestation that hung out around all the lights and got all over your blanket/mattress/body. Those were the worst.
Each tent had anywhere from (i'd guess) like 20-40 bunk beds total. So tons of people. And big fans on one side hanging up to circulate the air.
Being on the bottom bunk had it's perks, for example; more air flow. But it had it's cons, for example, the sun is in your eyes very early and it gets hot as hell on your bunk in the day time.
Top bunks (what i had) had much less air circulation, but a bit more private and darker in the mornings/day time.
They use to have one tent with a tv setup but they didnt have that at all when i was there.
There was a vending machine room with 6 vending machines, it was an air conditioned room which was awesome. Only 5 people could be in that room at a time, and they fucking watched it on security cams like hawks...if one more went in, they'd go on the loud speaker and call you out and if it happens again everyone would lose access to the vending machines for the day/a few hours.
Where there any fights, rapes, or guard abuse?
Only one fight happened the time I was there, it was in the bathroom area where there weren't cameras. Apparently one guy owed the other guy a few bucks and never paid up. No real signs of guard abuse, and definetly no rape.
Did you see Chestbrah in there?
Sadly no. Saw a kid I knew in high school though.
So, did you learn your lesson?
Absolutely. But I'm not sure the system helped too much with that besides giving me a lot of time to think to myself. Other than that, if I was a "bad kid" into drugs and whatnot, I would have met a lot of terrible people and probably thrown my life down the shitter for sure by then.
what are you drinking right now?
P.S. pepper your angus
Protein powder (mocha cappucino ON Gold standard) and water
Is the mocha cappuccino flavor good? I usually just get chocolate when I get protein powder.
I like it alot. Got it based off the reviews, and being a coffee drinker I think it's amazing.
Did you meet Joe Arpaio, and if so, did you spit in his face?
I didn't see him once. In fact I've lived in the Phoenix area my whole life and have only seen him once in person, just before Christmas (this year) with about 100 other police with him. Apparently they were buying toys for the kids.
And I would have never spat in his face lol. However everyone would have respected the shit out of you if you did.
Tent City, What's that?
View HistoryShare Link