FROM THE ARCHIVE
Indian Country jails see record growth
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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2002

Overcrowded and underfunded, Indian Country jails saw more prisoners than ever last year, according to a recent federal report.

Based on a survey of 68 tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs jails, the Indian inmate population was 2,030, an increase of 10 percent from the year prior. The number in custody grew by 8 percent while those under community supervision jumped by a whopping 51 percent.

Nor surprisingly, the facilities were operating beyond their rated capacity, the survey found. On the peak day in June 2001, the jails were at 126 percent capacity, up from 118 percent in 2000.

For example, the Pine Ridge Correctional Facility on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota was housing 168 inmates at the end of June 2001. The jail is only rated to hold 22 prisoners.

The Tohono O'odham Detention Center on the Tohono O'odham Reservation in Arizona held 100 prisoners. But the facility is designed for just 34.

In total, 21 of the facilities, nearly a a third, were operating above 150 percent of their capacity.

"Jails in Indian Country, 2001" was released in May by the Bureau of Justice Statistics with no official announcement. The Bush administration didn't publicize the year 2000 report either.

The 2001 and 2000 surveys also didn't include feedback from Indian Country whereas the Clinton administration had asked law enforcement to comment on their needs. More training, staff and drug and alcohol programs were cited.

The Bush administration also has moved to rollback funding for Indian Country jails. While money has been provided to construct new facilities, none was provided to staff them in some cases.

The 2001 survey included figures on non-Indian facilities. Federal and state prisons held 849 American Indians per 100,000 Indians, compared to 690 persons of all races per 100,000 U.S. residents, the report stated.

Get the Report:
Jails in Indian Country, 2001 (May 2002)

Prior Reports:
2000 (July 2001) | 1998-1999 (July 2000)

Related Stories:
Indian Country jails see increased numbers (8/13)
Behind Bars: Native incarceration rates increase (7/13)
New study focuses on jails (7/10)

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