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Indian Country Jails

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Indian Country encompasses lands held in trust for tribes or their members. Corrections is a cornerstone of the tribal justice system. Tribal courts, probation, and law enforcement all intersect in scope and mission to complete the foundation. Jails in these systems play an integral part in public service, public safety, reentry, reunification, and reducing recidivism in their local communities.

Both tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have responsibility in the administration and operation of jails in Indian Country. A mission to provide safe, secure, and humane facilities guides the work of these agencies and the staff who manage the jails. Rehabilitation, the provision of culturally relevant environments, respect, and dignity form the backdrop of their mission. As with any jail, effective operations, and evidence-based practices, and sound procedures should be present throughout.

The jail administrator plays a vital role. The administrator must have knowledge and skills in a wide array of areas to oversee operations and mange specific functions, such as complying with jail standards; managing risk; developing policy and procedure; determining staffing needs; managing the workforce; managing the behavior of incarcerated individuals; developing a fire, safety and sanitation plan; and assessing jail operations. Likewise, staff contribute to each of these critical functions by facilitating the day-to-day operations.

Jails are a complex ecosystem with a variety of challenges. Staffing, health care, budgeting, adequate funding and resources, recruitment, hiring, and retention, aging facilities, jail planning, managing special populations, appropriate staff training, and a host of other items are all relevant issues for Indian Country jails. Resources on this page are offered in support of Indian Country jails, their missions, and the significance they hold among the nation’s jails.

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