Jane O’Meara Sanders—social worker, academic, wife of Bernie—took a trip yesterday to see the infamous “tent city” jail where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has somehow been allowed to house inmates since 1993. Arpaio says he gave her a tour; Sanders says the sheriff “showed up unexpectedly” while she was there and proved unable to answer questions about the facility.
Sanders has been campaigning for her husband in Arizona this week; she tweeted that she went to see the Tents Jail in Phoenix and found it, and its creator, horrific:
Arpaio, meanwhile, tweeted that when he heard Jane was in town he moved around some important-sounding appointments and ran right over:
Sanders seems nonplussed by her special personal tour, with Bernie’s campaign releasing a statement that pointed out many of the people being detained there are undocumented and haven’t committed any other crime:
Sanders went with immigrant rights leaders to witness directly the conditions in which people are inhumanely treated in the infamous “tent city” jail. Planning to view the conditions through the fence, Sanders was surprised when Arpaio came over and told them that they could go inside.
Sanders used the opportunity to question Arpaio about racial profiling and his use of civilians to detain people who are undocumented. She questioned the inhumane treatment of prisoners who have to live outside under temperatures that can reach over 130 degrees., a charge he did not deny, saying they were prisoners. He bragged about removing meat from all their meals and having chain gangs.
A federal court has found that Arpaio relied on racial profiling and illegal detention to target Latinos and immigrants.
Sanders is also quoted as saying that she found Arpaio disturbingly proud of the conditions he’d created:
“What I saw and heard firsthand today by visiting with the families and seeing tent city was very disturbing,” Sanders said. “Sheriff Arpaio did not even attempt to explain or excuse his inhumane treatment of people of color – not that he could. That kind of attitude toward our fellow human beings is completely unacceptable, especially in elected officials and those who would seek public office. We all need to stand up and put an end to these egregious human rights abuses. Today only solidified the need for comprehensive immigration and criminal justice reform I know that as president Bernie would do just that and keep families safe.”
When is Joe Arpaio going to jail?
A file photo shows inmates at the tent city jail in 2010. It has not changed. Photo via Getty Images