FARMINGTON, N.M. — The Navajo Nation Tribal Council approved a $60 million unsecured general obligation loan that will go toward the construction of 13 judicial complexes and detention centers in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.
The Key Bank loan, coupled with a $74 million grant from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and millions of dollars set aside by the Navajo Nation and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, allowed the tribe to begin construction in March.
Many of the Navajo Nation’s judicial complexes and detention centers have stood in a state of disrepair and inadequacy for several years. Approximately 50,000 people are arrested each year on Navajo land, which only contains 59 jail beds for 27,000 square miles of reservation property. Some complexes have stood for 30 years without renovations.
The situation is similar for all of the country’s 80-plus Indian reservations, according to reports. As a result, American Indians living on reservations experience almost twice the amount of violence as other communities in the United States, according to a Justice Department survey.
Causes of violence on reservations included increased gang activity and the persistence of chronic alcoholism and substance abuse, according to the report.
For Navajos, the much-needed loan money will go toward planning and constructing multifaceted buildings designed to meet the needs of the Nation’s communities and judicial professionals.
Five large complexes, built in the Tuba City, Chinle, Crownpoint, Shiprock, and Fort Defiance chapters, will include peacemaking offices, three courts, 48 detention beds and a large police station. In addition, a 388-bed correctional facility is planned for Shiprock, N.M.
Three medium-security facilities in the Aneth, Dilkon and Kayenta chapters will include peacemaking offices, two courts, 32 detention beds and a police office. Another four small complexes scheduled for the Alamo, Pinon, Ramah, and Tahajiilee chapters will be outfitted with one court, 16 detention beds and a small police office.
In addition, alcohol-abuse counseling programs designed to cut down the high number of repeat alcohol-related arrests will be situated throughout the facilities.
Construction on the new judicial and penitentiary facilities should be completed in four years, according to reports. Under the terms of the loan, the Navajo Nation has 20 years to pay the money back.