BIA official calls tribal jail conditions 'appalling'
Monday, April 19, 2004

Nobody in Washington, D.C., wants to hear about overcrowded and underfunded Indian Country jails, a Bureau of Indian Affairs official says.

Ed Naranjo, a regional law enforcement official, said he was so fed up inaction that he made a 15-minute video documenting the sorry shape of jails in Montana. Over the objections of his superiors, he sent the tape to top BIA officials in Washington. "A lot of people are pretty mad at me right now," Naranjo told The Missoulian.

Department of Justice reports for the past four years have shown that tribal jails are operating far beyond capacity. Nearly half are in "poor" condition, another 25 percent are in "fair" condition and 25 percent are in "good" condition.

Ed Naranjo says "it should be criminal to house people in these conditions." He added: "Every one knows we need more money for Indian jails. But at some point, the needs get to be so great that they just become overwhelming. The people in Washington, D.C., don't want to hear about it."

Assistant secretary Dave Anderson responded to the situation by creating a task force to address jail problems. But Naranjo isn't convinced change will come any time soon.

"I've been in BIA law enforcement for 30 years," he told the paper, "and I've seen task forces come and go over and over." Only federal funding, he says, will fix the problem.

Get the Story:
Little has changed in decaying Indian jails (The Missoulian 4/19)

Indian Country Jail Reports:
Year 2002 | Year 2001 | Year 2000 | Years 1998-1999

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