Arizona's 'tent city' celebrates 21 years

Arizona's 'tent city' celebrates 21 years

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - An unusual birthday party happened over the weekend.  Arizona's 'Tent City' celebrated 21 years.

Sheriff Joe Arapaio helped hand out cake and gatorade to inmates on Sunday.  Around 900 men and woman live in the outdoor canvas compound.  Despite years of protests, Arapaio says as long as he is sheriff, the tents are there to stay.

"It's not inhumane," said Arapaio. "It's 21 year. It sends a message, make it a little tough so they don't want to come back."

Inmates do complain about the heat, but since the tent city opened, no one has suffered any life threatening illnesses caused by the high temperatures.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.