Destination Tent City, AZ, a Memoir About the Aftermath of a DUI

Destination Tent City, AZ (ISBN: 978-1-60381-109-5, $11.95, 168 pp), is an account of one woman’s experiences after she is arrested for drinking and driving, “as told to” Mark Feuerer.

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“This timely book should serve as a document to hasten the end of Arpaio’s brutal reign and Arizona’s overzealous policy of making money from—and routinely ruining the lives of—people who’ve committed victimless crimes,” writes Brandon M. Stickney in ForeWord Digital Reviews. “Going so far as to say that Arpaio’s tactics create a new generation of career offenders—in that moving beyond this form of incarceration is difficult, to say the least—Feuerer’s look at the real story behind a government that manipulates ‘criminal’ statistics for its own profit is well written and highly recommended.”

“Each year thousands of Americans are killed by alcohol-impaired driving,” says Kenneth Sharp, Host of Ridin’ Dirty, the Radio Show. “This must-read will help you understand how the book’s subject lost her life too—following a casual Sunday drive.”

“Reading Destination Tent City, AZ is a white-knuckle experience,” says licensed counselor Shannon Madden. “You have to keep turning the pages. This book is a must-read for anyone facing DUI charges, because it demystifies the unknown. It takes courage to tell a story like this one.”

One day a young woman—a productive member of society—stopped for a few beers, then drove on. She was a middle-class offender, so the law came down hard, sentencing her to ten days in Tent City, a prison of tents as fetid, repressive, and scorching-hot as any POW camp. The bad news went on and on: steep legal bills, endless fines, a malfunctioning interlock device … In the end she was broke, humiliated, and everyone in her new social circle had a criminal record. Did the punishment fit the crime? Is this really the most effective way to keep problem drinkers off the road? Ever since Tent City was established in 1993, this jail in Maricopa, Arizona, has been making headlines. Destination Tent City, AZ chronicles a two-year period of a young woman’s life after she, like so many Americans, made the fateful decision to drink and drive. This “as told to” account of the practical and psychological repercussions of receiving a DUI should give readers pause the next time they decide to drive away from happy hour. Especially if they happen to be in Arizona.

“My inspiration for writing the book came from my desire to turn the process of my friend’s DUI into a positive experience,” says author Mark Feuerer. “Although we can all agree that drinking and driving is dangerous and must be stopped, we should be debating the severity of the penalties; our present system is so punitive that it often leaves offenders completely crushed and therefore more likely to reoffend; they simply have nothing left to lose. I do not believe that the woman who told me her story will ever drink and drive again. I’m willing to bet she’s one of the exceptions. If we really want to help problem drinkers and alcoholics and prevent them from driving under the influence in the future, why are we throwing them in prison over one infraction? We should at least ensure that our primary goal isn’t filling the state’s coffers by keeping its prisons occupied.”

Mark Feuerer was born and raised in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, a small town just northwest of Milwaukee. He is the youngest of eight siblings. Mark headed off to Princeton University in 1984, where he played baseball, football and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. After a short stint playing professional baseball in Australia in 1989-1990, he settled into a career in the heavy construction equipment industry, working on both the manufacturing and dealership sides of the business. He received his MBA in 1998 from Keller Graduate School of Management and spent 2003 in law school at New England School of Law. In 2008, he married his wife Kelly (nee Weigand), managing attorney for a healthcare network provider. Mark, Kelly, and their three cats and one dog live in Scottsdale, Arizona. Click here to read Mark’s blog.

Destination Tent City, AZ is available in trade paperback on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, and Amazon Japan. The Kindle edition retails for $4.95. Other ebook versions can be purchased on Smashwords and through most major ebook retailers. Bookstores and libraries can order through info@coffeetownpress.com and Ingram.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“Did the guards give you ice to put in the drum?” one of the girls asks me.

“No.” She turns and walks toward the guard, who is about fifteen feet away.

“Sir, excuse me, but is there any way we can get ice for the water drum?” she requests in a very respectful way.

“Too busy. Sorry. Maybe tomorrow.” The guard answers sarcastically as he stands there motionless, arms folded, as if conserving energy for his trip home. The brief glance she gives him as she walks away is priceless. I have a feeling that the continuous friction between inmates and guards often results in this type of interaction. I’m sure I’ll be sending my fair share of angry glances as my time here stretches out. As I fill the water drum, the three women I shared the intake process with arrive. No rhyme or reason to the processing time. It can take anywhere from twelve to eighteen hours for inmates to complete the intake process. We acknowledge each other as I keep the hose in the barrel. Before I can finish filling it, the women begin to line up to fill their bottles. I get in a line of about five women, waiting my turn to drink hose water from a plastic barrel. One day you’re ordering a Silver Oak cabernet from a swanky restaurant, the next … well, you get the picture. Still, I step up to the barrel during my turn, fill the bottle, and drink the entire thing. What have I just done? The aftertaste and smell literally make me ill. A nearly lethal combination of rust, minerals, and shit is apparently on tap today. Now I know what my friend’s dog is expecting as she makes her way to my toilet to get a drink.

I speed walk to the bathroom, thinking that if I’m going to get sick, at least I have the decency to find a toilet. As I walk in, a small dry heave stops me dead in my tracks. The unsanitary conditions just about make me toss my cookies … literally. Maybe that’s how the phrase “toss my cookies” got started. An inmate, forced to eat the prison food cookies, heads to the bathroom to give them back … Eight filthy sinks, with the same number of open stall toilets, several of which are unflushed or plugged. C’mon people … it’s already disgusting in every other corner of this place … should we really suddenly ignore the post-defecation flush reflex to add to the stench? Prison movies are spot on when they depict open, high school style shower quarters off of the bathroom. If you can stand the smell and are comfortable being spotted naked by a toilet user, then the shower area is for you. A couple of dry heaves and I begin to feel a bit better. I have learned my lesson—sip the hose water or it will find its way back out. By 8 p.m. the drum is empty.

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