Arizona holds ‘Inmate Idle’ ‘con’test

By Liz Lavin
April 19, 2007

Dallas Morning News/MCT

American Idol has taken the world by storm. So much, in fact, that the “Idol” craze has found its way behind the bars of prison.

Six inmates in Arizona’s Maricopa County Jail competed in the first ever “Inmate Idle” on March 23. The “con”-test was created by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff has a tough reputation and is known for his strict treatment of inmates; feeding them 15 cent meals, making them wear hot pink jumpsuits and live in tents in the Arizona desert.

Arpaio used the competition as a chance to build morale and teamwork and give the inmates something to do with their idle time, which is why he coined the contest “Inmate Idle,” not ‘Idol.’

The contestants performed in a tent that they built themselves.

The contest was also designed to help bring the inmates together. More than 100 convicts auditioned for the competition and were narrowed down to 15 by inmate voting. The 15 were then narrowed down to the final six by the same process.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Shannon Federici, a sophomore early and elementary education major, said. “It gives people in jail a chance to participate in and have a connection to what the rest of the world is doing.”

“Inmate Idle” was judged by singer Alice Cooper, Arpaio and Elvis impersonator Bret Kaiser, a detention officer at the prison. The master of ceremonies was Bob Hilton from the Dick Clark Company. The company is considering making a national show based off of the contest.

The winner was 36-year old Corey Brothers, who is in for violating probation, for his performance of “My Girl.”

Thousands of inmates were forced to work together to vote to make sure they all got a piece of the prize.

The prize included Big Macs, pizza, milkshakes and cake and was given to Brothers and everyone living in his tent.

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Liz Lavin

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