“There’s evil in the world that’s unrepentant, and I’ve experienced it firsthand,” Francisco Chairez writes for the Washington Post. Chairez, a Mexican immigrant, spent time in one of Joe Arpaio’s infamous “tent cities” following a 2015 conviction for drunk driving. His experience doing time under the former Arizona sheriff is one of the reasons President Trump’s pardon of Arpaio Friday left him “disgusted, dispirited, and disappointed in the American political system.” Before even getting to the outdoor prison, Chairez had to go through something called “the Matrix,” where he was moved from cell to cell for 12 hours straight, freezing, unable to sleep, and given only old bread, milk, and an apple to eat.
Then it was on to the tent city, an outdoor prison of army tents that left inmates with no protection from the Arizona weather. “The rules of the tent city were strict, arbitrary, and brutally enforced,” Chairez writes. Newspapers, which Arpaio hates, were banned. The only food came from an overpriced vending machine. During Chairez’s summer there, temperatures in the tent city hit 120 degrees. There was no cold water; people fainted and suffered heatstroke; one inmate died in his bed. The winter was, somehow, worse. “There were no heaters. Most jackets … weren’t allowed,” Chairez recalls. Inmates resorted to filling water bottles with boiling shower water or wrapping plastic bags around their feet to keep warm. And Chairez was one of the lucky ones, spared the worst of the abuses under “Sheriff Joe’s” watch. “Arpaio being pardoned is a nightmare come true,” Chairez concludes. Read his full piece here.