Dole visits jail, calls it 'real America'

By Lisa Heller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 18, 1996

Adam F. Jarrold
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Presidential candidate Bob Dole emphasizes the importance of being tougher on crime yesterday to a crowd of about 200 people while on a campaign stop at the In-Tents Jail Facility in Phoenix. The facility is one of the many controversial undertakings of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arapaio.


PHOENIX - A county jail provided the backdrop for Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole to speak about his plans to decrease violent crime in America.

While visiting an In-Tents Jail Facility yesterday, Dole toured the grounds with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who developed the idea of housing criminals in tents.

"This facility may not be the most exciting, but this is real America, the part that many people never see or think about," Dole said.

Arpaio said he supports Dole in his efforts to decrease crime and implement a tougher policy in the nation's jail systems.

"I believe in everything he is talking about," Arpaio said. "Senator Dole will never give up on the best country in the world."

Dole started his speech "Listening to America" by proposing to the crowd of 200 people a starting point if he is elected president.

"One place to start is with tough, no-nonsense judges who interpret the Constitution and not try to defend (criminals' rights)," he said.

Dole also pledged to his supporters that during his term in office, his administration will cut drug use in half.

Dole added that soft drugs like marijuana lead to hard drugs such as cocaine, eventually leading to violent crime.

"We think drugs are the pipeline to crime," he said.

Dole also stressed the importance of trying juveniles who commit violent crimes as adults as well as "ending the revolving door" that criminals seem to continuously walk through. The revolving door refers to criminals who are released from jail and commit another crime, putting themselves back in the jail system.

He also said that in order to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, tougher laws need to be made. Dole proposed an instant background check in gun stores across the country.

"There are about 20 million names in Washington computers of people that should not have guns," he said. He added that the instant check would not only stop convicted felons from buying guns, but also stop about eight different categories of people who are dangerous with guns, including people judged medically insane or have been dishonorably discharged from the military.

"If they don't have a gun, they wreak less havoc," Dole said.

Dole also proposed to reinstate "Operation Trigger Lock," a program that was initiated under the George Bush administration, then downsized under President Clinton, Dole said. Under this program, people who commit crimes with a gun would go to jail.

Members of the Neighborhood Activist Inter-Linked Empowerment Movement attended Dole's speech to support his efforts in decreasing community gangs and crime by crime prevention education.

NAILEM is a group of people from different Phoenix communities that come together to combat community problems.

One of NAILEM's co-founders, Donna Neil, applauded Dole's efforts and encouraged him to use NAILEM as a resource in his campaign.

"Community leaders are your best resource - and we're cheap," she said. "We can tell you exactly what is going on in the communities. We are the eyes and ears of America."

Amy Vasquez, member of NAILEM and a senior at Camelback High School in Phoenix, said she was disappointed that Dole did not address any issues on crime prevention education for older students.

"He was talking about how crime education has to start from kindergarten," she said. "He thinks we're already formed so he can't do anything about it, and that's wrong."

Inmates housed in the In-Tents units sat outside as Dole spoke, and reacted as the media passed by afterward.

One inmate held up a handmade sign that read "Dole '96." He said he heard parts of Dole's speech, including Dole's plan of harsher sentencing.

"Right now, there is no rehabilitation in here whatsoever," said Jared Brady, 29. "It's a college for criminals. You can learn anything here from the guy next to you, like how to grow marijuana."

Another of Dole's proposals focused on low-income families. He said he plans to implement a five-year demonstration program to provide "opportunity scholarships" to children of low-income families. The program is part of Dole's economic package and would cost about $15 billion to run. It would match the amount of money each state provided to give the child an opportunity for education, he said.

"Why shouldn't low-income parents have the same rights that the president of the United States or anybody else has?" Dole asked.

Dole also mentioned a plan to crack down on fraud and abuse of Medicare.

He also said to cut down the number of criminals in the United States, the country has to look at the past to better the future.

"We had families and structure. We had someone that cared about kids," he said. "Now, sometimes the only time young people are touched is at birth."