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Book Review: Destination Tent City, AZ by Mark Feuerer

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In Destination Tent City, AZ author Mark Feuerer presents a true story of Arizona’s tough laws on driving under the influence while he chronicles the incarceration of a young woman who chose to drive after drinking.

Although the young woman chronicled in this journey has no name, many of us know someone like her. Prior to making a road trip she decides to stop at the “church” — a local hangout to have a couple of drinks before she gets on the road. Her next stop is to buy some snacks and a six-pack of Bud Light for her solo journey. Although she knows she shouldn’t be driving under the influence, she ignores her inner thoughts and continues to drive until she sees the police lights coming behind her.

After being booked and charged she is processed for her jail time. How humiliating for this to happen, not to mention she had a weapon in her car and some prescription drugs. Once released, she has to take a cab home as her vehicle has been impounded. After she arrives home she decides she can’t mess up her life more so takes more prescription drugs than she should and ends up in the emergency room at the hospital. Her family is stunned and can’t believe she could be so stupid and that puts her in another tail-spin. After everyone leaves her hospital room, she looks around for another way to complete what she started and notices a plastic knife on a food tray nearby. Not the best way to cut your wrists but she does get the effect she wants only to be found by an ICU nurse.

Tent City, which was founded by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is nothing like anyone has ever seen or experienced before. This is a no-frills tent city with no air conditioning, TVs, or fancy foods. Inmates are given a number which tells them what tent they are assigned to and what bunk. There are set schedules for everything — when to eat, use the restroom, shifts to “chain gangs,” which were outlawed in 1955. Sheriff Arpaio has saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars on incarcerating those who choose to break the law and also provides free road clean-up. There have been many controversies about Tent City — from “Do you want this type of establishment in your city?” to “Is it right to balance the state budget by using criminals?” Clearly Tent City does work as illustrated in Destination Tent City, AZ – but do these inmates get rehabilitated?

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