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Detainees on Hunger Strike in Phoenix as Families Hold Vigils

Thousands of inmates in three Phoenix-area jails are on lockdown—an attempt to force an end to a two-week old hunger strike among mostly immigrant detainees who have not yet been convicted of any crime. 

Valeria Fernandez, a reporter for Inter Press Service, writes:

The Maricopa County jail system, administered by Sheriff Joseph Arpaio, holds about 9,000 inmates, 70 percent of whom are pre-trial detainees.  

The country’s self-proclaimed "toughest" sheriff is famous for housing prisoners in tents, giving them pink underwear and feeding them what he claims are 30-cent meals. But he’s recently been in the spotlight of a national uproar over his tactics to crack down on illegal immigration by conducting traffic stops and raiding businesses.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is currently under investigation by the federal Justice Department over allegations of racial profiling and civil rights violations. It is also the subject of a 30-year-old lawsuit over jail conditions, including the quality of the food.

Family and supporters of the striking detainees have been holding candlelight vigils outside the jails.

Source: Inter Press Service