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Bureau of Indian Affairs Funded and/or Operated Detention Programs
Bureau of Indian Affairs
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Inspector General (OIG) evaluated the current conditions of detention programs and facilities that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funds and/or operates in Indian Country. In 2004, we evaluated Indian detention facilities and found that BIA was not providing safe and secure facilities throughout Indian Country. OIG published these findings in its report titled “Neither Safe Nor Secure: An Assessment of Indian Detention Facilities.” In 2015, the House Committee on Appropriations requested that OIG update its 2004 report.
In the 11 years that have passed since the issuance of that report, the operation and condition of detention facilities in Indian Country have improved. Even with the improvements made thus far, opportunities exist to further improve these detention programs and facilities. For example, serious incidents at the detention facilities—which include attempted suicide, escapes, and in-custody deaths—are not always reported in DOI’s centralized system, and the incident data that do exist are unreliable. In addition, Indian Affairs has not consistently completed required annual health and safety inspections. Further, maintenance work orders are not consistently recorded in an electronic system, leaving facility maintenance needs at risk of going unaddressed. Lastly, overcrowding and staffing continue to be problems at some facilities. These issues negatively affect the condition of detention facilities and the health and safety of inmates and correctional staff.
We offered nine recommendations to help Indian Affairs further improve detention programs in Indian Country. Indian Affairs concurred with all nine recommendations.