State of the Debate

Debate: A Tale of Two Tent Cities

First Published      Last Updated Apr 05 2017 12:09 pm

Guy tells his doctor he's been having strange dreams.

"Sometimes I'm a wigwam. Sometimes I'm a tepee. What does it mean, Doc?"

"Obviously, you're two tents."

Tents are in the news a lot these days:

County sheriff proposes opening Salt Lake homeless camp, reducing Road Home shelter beds, closing liquor store — Christopher Smart | The Salt Lake Tribune

"Think of it as a KOA campground for homeless people that would be conveniently located at the corner of 100 South and 600 West in Salt Lake City.

"That is one proposal outlined in Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder's 21-point plan to deal with homelessness. ..."

ACLU: Utah sheriff's homeless plan fraught with constitutional issues — Christopher Smart | The Salt Lake Tribune

Well, if this plan does fly, there is one place Winder might go to buy some tents, cheap.

Arizona sheriff to shut down famed Tent City jails complex — Jacques Billeaud | The Associated Press | sltrib.com

"Phoenix • The new sheriff of metro Phoenix announced Tuesday that he's closing down a complex of jail tents that helped make his predecessor, Joe Arpaio, a national law enforcement figure.

"The decision by Sheriff Paul Penzone to close the nearly 24-year-old Tent City complex will undo a critical piece of Arpaio's political legacy. He is already phasing out Arpaio's signature practice of making inmates wear pink underwear.

" 'This facility became more of a circus atmosphere for the general public. Starting today, that circus ends,' said Penzone, who plans to move half of Tent City's inmates to other jails within 45 to 60 days and complete the closure within six months.

"Despite the complex's reputation for being a miserable place to serve time, Penzone said most inmates preferred the outdoor setting because they weren't confined most of the day in 6-foot-by-8-foot indoor cells and instead were able to move around freely within the complex and pass much of their time in a nearby air-conditioned room. ..."

And, of course, we've been here before:

Guv criticizes 'tent cities' plan — The Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 30, 2008

"Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. criticized a proposal by Republican 3rd Congressional District candidate Jason Chaffetz to build tent cities to house undocumented immigrants, saying that "on its face it's an extreme idea."

"As part of his immigration proposal, Chaffetz, who is Huntsman's former chief of staff, has advocated building prison camps to house those who are here illegally and commit crimes. He has said that his policy is based on a consensus stand by the Western Governors Association.

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