Sen. Kyl: Tribal jails neither safe nor secure

"The United States, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Justice Department, operates and funds detention facilities throughout Indian Country as part of its trust responsibilities to Native Americans. According to a Justice Department study, American Indians experience violent crime at a rate more than twice the national average, yet tribal detention facilities have been grossly under-funded and are in an appalling state of disrepair.

Indeed, a 2004 report by the Inspector General confirms that Indian detention facilitates are “Neither Safe Nor Secure.” The report states that “it became abundantly clear that some facilities we visited were egregiously unsafe, unsanitary, and a hazard to both inmates and staff alike. BIA’s detention program is riddled with problems . . . and is a national disgrace.”

I have visited Indian detention facilities in Arizona and have witnessed firsthand their deplorable and unsafe conditions. It has negatively affected many of the Indian tribes in Arizona. Take, for example, the Navajo Nation. It is approximately the size of West Virginia and has a population of more than 250,000. Because a number of the Nation’s detention facilities have been closed for health and safety reasons, it only has 59 jail beds. This incredibly low number, which the Nation estimates represents less than 10 percent of its needs, leads to severe overcrowding.

The Navajo Nation has stated that overcrowded jails cause the majority of tribal court judges to defer or reduce sentences. In many cases, the Nation has no choice but to release and return serious offenders to their community in a matter of hours.

Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to tragic results."

Get the Story:
Sen. Jon Kyl: Tribal Jails: “Neither Safe nor Secure” (Sen. Kyl 10/15)

Inspector General Final Jail Report:
Text | PDF

Inspector General Interim Jail Report:
Text | PDF

Department of Justice Jail Reports:
Year 2002 | Year 2001 | Year 2000 | Years 1998-1999

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