Maricopa County is one of the largest counties in the United States and the most populous in Arizona with a population of more than 3.8 million. Learn more about the history of Maricopa County and what it's best known for today.

Maricopa County Overview & History

Maricopa County today has a population of 3.8 million. If the county were a state, it would be the 27th most populous state in the U.S. Its county seat is Phoenix, which is also the state capital and largest city in Arizona. It also forms the basis for the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Arizona Metropolitan Statistical Area. Maricopa County is located in south-central Arizona. By area, Maricopa County is the 15th largest county in the U.S. after several counties mostly in Nevada and elsewhere in Arizona with a total area of more than 9,220 square miles.

Early History of the Salt River Valley

The area around Phoenix and Maricopa have been occupied for thousands of years beginning with paleo-Indians who lived in the Salt River Valley from 9,000 years ago until 6,000 BC. At the time, the nomadic tribes hunted mammoths migrating through the area. Many nomadic tribes moved through the region, many of them from what are today California and Mexico.

For thousands of years, the Southwest region of the United States was home to numerous bands of nomadic hunters and gatherers although this changed about 3,000 years ago when the culture became agricultural, especially with the introduction of maize. As farming became established, groups developed separate cultures that were broken into nomads, villagers, and farmers. It is from the farming culture that the Hohokam people rose.

Around 1,000 BC, maize was introduced into the culture of the archaic Indians and the Hohokam civilization rose. The Hohokam came from Mexico and brought an agrarian society that was very different from the hunter-gatherer cultures common in the area. The Hohokam settled around the Tuscon area and thrived.

The Hohokam settled the area of Maricopa County around 1 AD and, after 500 years, had established canal systems for thriving agriculture. More than 135 miles of agricultural canals have been discovered and their paths were later used for the Central Arizona Project Canal, the Arizona Canal, and the Hayden-Rhodes Aqueduct. The Hohokam occupied the area around Phoenix and Tuscon for over 2,000 years. At their height, the Hohokam were the largest group of people in the prehistoric Southwest and the largest native population north of Mexico City. The Hohokam people vanished for unknown reasons by 1450 although it's believed that severe floods and drought played a role.

When European settlers arrived in Maricopa County in the 16th century, there were two primary groups of Indians inhabiting the land: the Sobaipuri and O'odham tribes. Other American Indian tribes who inhabited the area included the Maricopa, Gila River, and Apache tribes.

The Sobaipuri were an Uto-Aztecan tribe who were allied with the Tohono O'odham or Papago tribe. The Sobaipuri today are no longer a distinct tribe and their language was never recorded well but appears to have been closely related to O'odham. It's believed the Sobaipuri were a subgroup of the O'odham or Pima people. While the Sobaipuri no longer exist as a separate tribe, there are still many O'odham peoples living in southern and central Arizona today.

There is still much debate as to whether the O'odham or Sobaipuri were actually related to the prehistoric Hohokam people who disappeared prior to the 15th century.

Arrival of Europeans

Spanish explorers began to travel through Maricopa County in the 1500s, leaving European diseases like smallpox, influenza, and measles that ravaged Indian communities.

The Sobaipuri played a crucial role in European contact and later colonization of Arizona. The group was probably met by Marcos de Niza in 1539 along the San Pedro River. In 1691, Father Eusebio Kino arrived to the region and was greeted by leaders of the Sobaipuri. When Kino traveled along the river, he found three structures made by the Indians constructed specifically for him with a kitchen, a house, and a room for mass. This was the first Jesuit mission in Arizona. On his trip, Kino established a church with a native settlement that became the head mission in the region. The Spanish did make this mission near Tucson but they never made settlements near Phoenix.

The Sobaipuri were known to be friendly with neighbors such as the Apache and frequently traded, raided, and married together. Because the Sobaipuri eventually sided with the Europeans and even battled against other tribes, their relationship with unconverted tribes suffered.

The first European explorers in Maricopa County were Spanish. At first, settlement attempts were isolated to Tuscon and the southern parts of the region prior to 1800. It wasn't until the early 19th century that Central Arizona was settled. The city of Phoenix got its start when these settlements begin to expand and a military outpost was established east of modern-day Phoenix.

The end of the Mexican-American War in 1848 passed much of Mexico's northern territory to the United States. A portion of it became the New Mexico Territory that included most of modern-day Maricopa County. Until 1863, most of Maricopa County was part of the New Mexico Territory. This changed with the establishment of the Arizona Territory. In 1853, the Gadsden Purchase included a promise from the United States to honor all regional land rights, including those of the O'odham who received full constitutional rights.

During the Civil War, the Gila River Valley and Salt River Valley regions in Maricopa County were claimed by both sides. Confederate Arizona was claimed by the South and was created by a proclamation by Jefferson Davis in 1862. The North claimed the Salt River Valley as part of the Arizona Territory.

In 1863, a mining community called Wickenburg was established in the northwest corner of modern-day Phoenix while Maricopa County was still unincorporated. By 1865, as the Civil War was ending, settlers begin to move into the Valley of the Sun and the Army built Fort McDowell to address uprisings from Native American tribes. The fort also established a camp on the Salt River in 1866 to supply hay, creating the first non-native settlement in the area. This and other settlements eventually merged to create Tempe, which was incorporated after Phoenix.

History of Mesa

Mesa is the second-largest city in Maricopa County and the third-largest in Arizona. Little is known about the Mesa area after the disappearance of the Hohokam people in the 15th century and before the arrival of the first European settlers as explorers did not go through the area.

In 1877, a Mormon pioneer named Daniel Webster Jones led an expedition to the area to found a settlement. He left St. George, Utah in 1877 and arrived at an area within present-day Mesa. He founded a settlement that was first called Jonestown and Fort Utah, which later became Lehi in 1883.

Another group called the First Mesa Company also arrived in the area from Idaho and Utah. They did not accept an invitation to join the Lehi settlement and instead moved to the mesa that became the city's namesake. The group dug irrigation canals and had water flowing by 1878. In 1879, the Second Mesa Company arrived and settled to the west of the earlier group and named their new settlement Stringtown in 1880.

Mesa City became a registered townsite in 1878 and it was incorporated in 1883 with a population of 300. By the 1940s, the population began to explode as air conditioning became available.

History of Chandler

Chandler is the third-largest city in Maricopa County and one of the largest suburbs of the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area with a population of more than 250,000 today. Chandler's history began with Dr. Alexander Chandler, the first veterinary surgeon in the state who lived on a ranch near Mesa and studied irrigation engineering in 1891. He acquired more than 18,000 acres of land and drew up plans for a new townsite on what was the Chandler Ranch. The Chandler High School and townsite office were both opened in 1912. A year later, a town center was formed with the state's first golf resort.

Chandler's economy survived the Great Depression although it was severely affected by a cotton crash shortly afterward. The population began growing slightly after the Williams Air Force Base opened in 1941 but it still had a small population of just 3,800 by 1950. It began its rapid growth around the late 1980s and became one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the United States.

Since 2003, Chandler's economy has grown with several retail developments along the South Arizona Avenue Corridor. There are three shopping malls in the area including the massive Chandler Fashion Center.

Changes in the 20th Century

While Maricopa County's economy revolved around cattle, citrus, cotton, and copper in its early history, a number of military air bases, training centers, and tech companies begin to move into the area in the mid-20th century. This led to a massive technology and population boom. Phoenix became a popular winter destination for tourists and provided government and retail services for the rest of Central Arizona. Many tuberculosis patients also moved to the region as resting in a warm, dry climate was recommended by physicians of the time.

The region shifted into a distribution center during World War II with the mass production of military supplies. During this era, Maricopa County was home to three Air Force fields and two large training camps, one in Scottsdale and one in Glendale.

By 1940, Phoenix had 65,000 residents and it was the 6th largest city in the United States. Just a decade later, the population had boomed to 105,000 within the city and surrounding communities. Today, it has more than 1.5 million residents with millions more in the Greater Phoenix metro area.

Indian Reservations in Maricopa County

Maricopa County is named for the Maricopa Indians and the county today is home to several Indian Reservations.

The Gila River Indian Community is located south of Chandler and Phoenix within the Phoenix Metro Area in Maricopa and Pinal counties. The reservation was established in 1859 and formally recognized by Congress in 1939. The Gila River Indian Community is the largest in the county with a population of more than 11,200.

The Gila River Indian Community is home to members of the Pee-Posh or Maricopa tribe and the Akimel O'odham or Pima tribes. It includes seven districts along the Gila River. The largest communities are Blackwater, Sacaton, Santan, and Komatke.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is located east of Scottsdale and also borders Tempe, Mesa, and Fountain Hills. This community was founded in 1879 by executive order of President Rutherford Hayes. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa community is comprised of two tribes: the Pima or Akimel O'odham and the Maricopa or Piipaash.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has an area of 53,000 miles with a population of more than 6,200. The community has owned and operated two casinos for decades under the Casino Arizona brand. They also own some office space and The Scottsdale Pavilions, a large outdoor shopping center. The community also opened the first Major League Baseball spring training center on Indian land in 2011 which is the spring training home for the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Maricopa County is also home to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, founded in 1903 with a population of 970, and the Tohono O'odham Nation, founded in 1916 with a population of 10,000.

The Tohono O'odham Nation governs four areas of land, including the San Lucy district, the San Xavier Indian Reservation, and the Tohonto O'odham Indian Reservation.

Outdoor Recreation in Maricopa County

Maricopa County is known for its outdoor recreation in the form of lakes with fishing, hiking, and more. The following are some of the best examples of outdoor opportunities in the county.

  • Maricopa Trail. The Maricopa County Regional Trail System has a total of 1,521 miles of trails. The Maricopa Trail itself is 315 miles long. The trail is designed for runners, walkers, equestrians, and cyclists.
  • Golf. The Maricopa County Regional Park system has three golf courses: Paradise Valley Golf Course, Adobe Dam Regional Park, and Tres Rios Golf Course at Estrella Mountain Park.
  • Geocaching. This activity involves finding hidden caches by inputting coordinates into a GPS system.
  • Nature centers. Maricopa County has four nature centers: White Tank Mountain Regional Park, Ursery Mountain Regional Park, Estrella Mountain Regional Park, and Cave Creek Regional Park with features such as amphitheatres, patios, and trails.
  • Campsites. Maricopa County has campsites at nearly every park.
  • Boating. The Lake Pleasant Regional Park has two boat launch ramps.
  • Fishing. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is home to 12 types of fish including tilapia, bass, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, and catfish. The park also hosts fishing tournaments every year.
  • Scuba diving. Lake Pleasant Regional Park has a reputation as one of the best places to scuba dive in the western part of the country.
  • Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix waterpark. The water park offers rides and fun events like Dive-In Movie nights.

Tourist Attractions in Maricopa County

Maricopa County is home to dozens of attractions that draw in millions of visitors every year. From zoos and parks to museums and cultural events, here are some of the best things to do in the county.

Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo has more than 125 acres of attractions and exhibits like the Stingray Bay, Africa Trail, and Children's Trail plus more than 3,000 animals. The Phoenix Zoo is the largest nonprofit, privately owned zoo in the country and a designated Phoenix Point of Pride.

Heard Museum

The Heard Museum in Phoenix focuses exclusively on Native American art and culture, including traditional and contemporary art.

Arizona Science Center

Located in downtown Phoenix, the Arizona Science Center features more than 350 hands-on exhibits including the Dorrance Planetarium. The center has exhibits and programs for adults and kids with traveling exhibits. One of the latest exhibits at the center is Mummies of the World, the largest collection of mummies ever assembled from Ancient Egypt, Europe, and South America.

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park

The Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park is the largest collection of endangered and exotic animals in Arizona. The zoo features 600 species with a petting zoo and rides. The 15-acre Safari Park includes African lions, hyenas, cheetahs, olive baboons, warthogs, ostrich, and more. The Wildlife World Zoo also has an aquarium exhibit with a South Pacific Reef tunnel tank.

Phoenix Art Museum

The Phoenix Art Museum in the heart of downtown Phoenix is the largest art museum in the Southwest. The museum has more than 19,000 works in its permanent collection that cover contemporary, modern, Asian, American, Latin American, European, and Western American art. It also features regular exhibitions such as Art of Islam through Time and Place and Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is the only permanent museum in Arizona dedicated to modern architecture, art, and design. The museum is located in downtown Scottsdale on a 21-acre landscaped park and frequently collaborates with other art institutions in the area like the Phoenix Art Museum.

Pueblo Grande Museum

Explore trails through preserved remains of the Hohokam people who disappeared from Maricopa County in the 15th century. Trails go through the village and the remains on irrigation canals in this pre-Columbian site.

OdySea Aquarium

The OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale is the largest aquarium of the southwest. The aquarium features more than 30,000 animals with unique experiences like a penguin encounter, a shark tour, Living Sea Carousel, SeaTREK helmet diving, and a submerged escalator that allows guests to descend into the ocean surrounded by sea life. There are also several galleries including Kid's Cove, Deep Ocean, Otter Banks, Rivers of the World, Touch Pools, and Monster Fish with more than 50 exhibits.

Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix

Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix is a popular theme park situated on 35 acres which makes it the largest theme park in Arizona. It's also one of seven Wet 'n' Wild parks in the U.S. Wet 'n' Wild features dozens of thrill rides, kids rides, and family rides as well as popular events throughout the year.

Sea Life Arizona

This 26,000 square foot interactive aquarium in Tempe is a family-oriented experience with something for everyone. The aquarium features several exhibits like Critter Canyon with up-close views of tortoises and more, Bay of Rays, and Ocean View with sharks and a sea turtle. Sea Life has dozens of species on display like seahorses, sea turtles, tangs, rays, desert pupfish, and more.

Arizona Museum of Natural History

This is the only natural history museum in the Phoenix area. Located in Mesa, the Arizona Museum of Natural History opened in 1977 and features dozens of exhibits on dinosaurs, cultures of Ancient America, palaeontology, and archaeology. The museum has exhibits devoted to the Hohokom people of the region plus interactive dinosaur exhibits.

Children's Museum of Phoenix

The Children's Museum of Phoenix is designed for kids up to age 10 with more than 300 interactive play areas and exhibits. The museum is rated as one of the top three children's museums in the country with a diverse range of programs and classes in science, art, music, yoga, math, and more.

Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix is a traditional Japanese stroll garden over 3.5 acres with a tea house, tea garden, koi pond, and a 12-foot waterfall.

Dolphinaris Arizona

Dolphinaris is an aquatic center and modern marine habitat with dolphin viewing tanks and open-air pools allowing visitors to swim with dolphins.

Big Surf

Located in Tempe, Big Surf is a large water park opened in 1969. Big Surf had one of the first wave pools in the United States. Today, the original wave pool of the Southwest receives more than 2.5 million visitors every year. Big Surf also has several water slides of all sizes and kid-friendly water park attractions.

Castles N' Coasters

Castles N' Coasters is a family amusement park in Phoenix with 4 miniature golf courses, a 10,000 square foot arcade, and rides.

Maricopa County Seat Overview & History

The county seat of Maricopa County is Phoenix, which was named the county seat when the county was formed in 1871.

The town of Phoenix was officially settled in 1867. That year, a Confederate veteran named Jack Swilling visited the fort to assess the agricultural potential of the valley. He helped promote the creation of the first irrigation system which was based on the ruins of the Hohokam irrigation canals that were discovered. He returned to Wickenburg to raise money from miners to create the Swilling Irrigating and Canal Company to build canals and develop the area for farming. He began construction of the canals to revitalize the region. While it isn't known who came up with the name Phoenix, it is known that Swilling had suggested Stonewall after Stonewall Jackson. By the start of 1868, the name Phoenix was already in use.

Yavapai County, which included Phoenix at the time, officially recognized the new town in 1868. The first post office was established in Swilling's home where he served as postmaster. By 1870, the population of the Salt River Valley was 240. Swilling didn't live long after founding Phoenix as a venture for irrigated farmland. He died in 1878 after struggling with alcohol and drug addiction while awaiting trial for robbery.

In 1871, Maricopa County was created after Yavapai County was divided. Phoenix was named the county seat. By 1875, the town had 16 saloons, 4 dance halls, and a telegraph office. It received its first bank in 1878 with a population of more than 2,400 by 1880.

Phoenix was incorporated as a city in 1881 and Judge John Alsap became the first mayor. The city grew rapidly, usually in response to some type of crisis. Shortly after becoming a city, Phoenix experienced a smallpox outbreak that prompted the creation of a public health department. A public water system was developed the same decade after serious fires.

It was the introduction of the railroad in the late 1880s that spurred the economic growth of Phoenix. Phoenix quickly became a trade city with products moving all the way to the east and west markets. By 1900, Phoenix reached a population of 5,500.

Maricopa County Sheriff

The current Maricopa County Sheriff is Paul Penzone who was elected in 2016. Penzone defeated longtime incumbent Joe Arpaio who served for 24 years. Penzone served with the Phoenix Police Department for 21 years and rose to the ranks of sergeant, eventually retiring and joining a non-profit group called Childhelp before his election as County Sheriff.

Arpaio was known for his stance against illegal immigration and his investigation into former President Obama's birth certificate and called himself "America's Toughest Sheriff." Arpaio was the subject of numerous federal civil rights lawsuits and his office was found to continue detaining people without reasonable suspicion a crime had been committed after a federal court issued an injunction. He was convicted of criminal contempt of court and pardoned by President Trump in 2017.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) has jurisdiction over the entire county with headquarters in Phoenix. The MCSO is Arizona's largest sheriff's office with about 3,300 employees. Founded in 1871, the sheriff's office is the main law enforcement for unincorporated areas of the county and incorporated cities that have contracted with the MCSO for law enforcement. The MCSO also operates the Maricopa County jail system.

Because Maricopa County is so large, it's divided into six Districts, each staffed by a District Commander, a Deputy Commander, and uniformed patrol deputies, sergeants, detectives, and admin staff.
The MCSO features several specialized units. Along with patrolling unincorporated areas of the county, the sheriff's office patrols waterways and lakes through the Lake Patrol Division in recreational areas of Lake Pleasant Regional Park and Tonto National Forest.

The Trails Division of the MCSO provides law enforcement in wilderness and recreational areas of Maricopa County Parks with a total area of 120,000 acres. The Maricopa County parks system is the largest in the United States. The Aviation Division of the MCSO provides airborne support to Lake Patrol, uniformed patrol, narcotics, SWAT, extraditions, and Search and Rescue.

The Sheriff's Canine Unit has 25 canines with different specialties like cadaver, patrol, and narcotics with a staff that includes one sergeant, ten deputies, four detention officers, and five detectives.

City Police Departments

Maricopa County has two types of law enforcement agencies: the Sheriff's Office and city police departments. The following list includes the largest city police departments in the Metro Phoenix area.

Avondale Police Department

Dale Nannenga, Chief of Police
623-333-7001
The Avondale Police Department serves a community of more than 85,000 with four police stations: Main Station, Cashion Sub-Station, Historic Old Town Sub-Station and Detention Facility, and Northwest Sub-Station on the Estrella Mountain CC Campus. The department has two divisions: Operations and Support Services. The Avondale Police Department also has several specialty units such as Special Victims and Street Crimes.

Chandler Police Department

Sean Duggan, Chief of Police
480-782-4130
The Chandler Police Department (CPD) has more than 330 sworn officers and 160 civilian employees that serve a population of more than 250,000. The CPD has three precincts: Chandler Heights, Desert Breeze, and Main Station. The department has two divisions: Professional Services and Field Operations. It also has several specialized units including Human Trafficking & Vice, Gang Enforcement, SWAT, Criminal Apprehension, and Computer Crimes.

Gilbert Police Department

Michael Soelberg, Chief of Police
480-503-6500
The Gilbert Police Department responds to more than 180,000 service calls every year with specialty units to address crime suppression, dangerous driving, and school safety with a SWAT unit, K9 unit, and traffic unit. The Traffic Unit has a day and night DUI team with 10 motorcycle officers, two sergeants, a lieutenant, and three collision investigators.

Glendale Police Department

Rick St. John, Chief of Police
623-930-3000
The Glendale Police Department has several divisions to serve a population of nearly 250,000. The department's divisions include Communications, Criminal Investigations, and Traffic. The department has more than 400 officers and 120 civilian employees with a history of more than 100 years. There are two Glendale Police Department stations: Gateway and Foothills.

Mesa Police Department

Ramon Batista, Chief of Police
480-644-2211
The Mesa Police Department is a large city police department with more than 800 sworn officers and 400 civilian employees serving a population of almost 500,000. The Mesa Police Department has four substations across the city: Fiesta Police Division, Central Police Division, Red Mountain Police Division, and Superstition Police Division. The department serves the community with several specialty units such as the Airport Unit, Aviation Unit, Organized Crime, Communications, Criminal Investigations, Financial Crimes, Gang Unit, K9 Unit, Sex Trafficking, and Special Victims Unit.

Phoenix Police Department

Jeri Williams, Chief of Police
602-262-6151
The Phoenix Police Department is the largest city police force in Arizona, serving a population of more than 1.6 million. The department was formed in 1881 and is comprised of more than 2,900 police officers who patrol nearly 516 square miles with the help of more than 1,000 civilian employees. The department has six divisions: Patrol, Support Services, Management Services, Investigations, Strategic Services, and Reserve. There are also 23 bureaus such as Major Offender, Violent Crimes, Drug Enforcement, and Communications.

The Phoenix Police Department has seven precincts in its Patrol Division: Central City, Cactus Park, Black Mountain which also runs the Goelet A.C. Beuf Neighborhood Police Station, Desert Horizon which also runs the Sunnyslope Neighborhood Police Station, Maryvale, Mountain View, and South Mountain.

Scottsdale Police Department

Alan G. Rodbell, Chief of Police
480-312-5000
The Scottsdale Police Department serves a population of more than 250,000. The city is divided into four districts: McKellips, Downtown, Via Linda, and Foothills. The Scottsdale Police Department has three bureaus: Investigative Services, Operational Services, and Uniformed Services. The Uniformed Services Bureau is the most visible with patrol and traffic enforcement officers, a K9 unit, a Bicycle Unit, and a Mounted Unit.

Surprise Police Department

Terry Young, Chief of Police
623-222-4000
The Surprise Police Department serves a population of more than 135,000. The department has four divisions. The largest is the Field Operations Division that includes K9 teams, Animal Control, uniformed patrol officers, Traffic Enforcement, and Park Ranger Services. The Criminal Investigations Division of the SPD includes several United such as Property Crimes, Victim Advocacy, and Crimes Against Persons. The department also has a Professional Development Division and the Administrative Services Division.

Tempe Police Department

Sylvia Moir, Chief of Police
480-350-8311
Founded in 1895, the Tempe Police Department serves a population of more than 185,000. The department has three branches: Field Operations, Investigations and Organizational Services, and Support Services. The Field Operations division includes Traffic, Central City, Metro, South Patrol, and North Patrol with specialty units such as a Bike Team, Canine Unit, Mounted Unit, and Threat Mitigation.

Maricopa County Jails

Maricopa County has five county jails with a combined capacity of nearly 9,100 inmates.

4th Avenue Jail

602-876-4636
The Fourth Avenue Jail located in Phoenix, Arizona has an inmate capacity of 2,064 and it's designed for high-security inmates. Built in 2005, the jail is the most secure facility in Maricopa County's county jail system with a Special Management Unit for the highest-security inmates. About 260 people are booked into the jail every day. The Fourth Avenue Jail has several housing pods with classrooms, visitation booths, and dayroom and rec yards. Level 4 of the jail has three different designs to accommodate increasing security levels.

Durango Jail

602-506-4280
The Durango Jail is located on West Gibson Lane in Phoenix and has a capacity of about 2,195 inmates. This mid-sized jail was built in 1976 and is the oldest jail in the county although new dorm rooms were added in 1996. The facility was not originally intended to be a jail but instead a facility to re-introduce inmates into society. As jail populations increased, it was repurposed into a female unit then a psychiatric unit. The jail is classified for minimum and medium security inmates and sentenced inmates who attend the ALPHA substance abuse program.

Estrella Jail

602-876-1000
The Estrella Jail on Durango Road in Phoenix is an all-female jail with a capacity of 1,380. It has four housing units with 9 dormitories. The jail is designed to accommodate female inmates of all classifications in the county jail system, including minimum, medium, closed-custody, maximum, administrative segregation, and disciplinary segregation. It also houses female inmates participating in the ALPHA substance abuse program. The Estrella Jail has the country's only all-female chain gang.

Lower Buckeye Jail

602-876-0322
The Lower Buckeye Jail in Phoenix, Arizona is the largest county jail in Maricopa County and the largest detention center in the state with a capacity of 2,382. Lower Buckeye is an all-male facility that houses non-sentenced minimum and medium general population and all classifications of juvenile inmates. The facility was built in 2005 with two types of living areas: dormitories with direct supervision and recreation areas and tower-style observation units. The facility also allows self-surrenders and processes about 1,100 self-surrender bookings every month.

Towers Jail

602-876-4636
The Towers Jail in Phoenix was built in 1982 and houses up to 1,080 inmates. This facility is unique because it's the only one in the county to house sentenced and non-sentenced inmates in six separate housing units. It also has separate housing for veteran inmates.