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Navajo Nation to Hire Correctional Officers for New Jails on Reservation

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The Navajo Nation is accepting applications for correctional officers at three new jail facilities currently under construction on the reservation, reported the Navajo Times.

The 132-bed Tuba City facility and the 48-bed jail in Crownpoint are set to open in November, and the 80-bed jail in Kayenta is expected to be in operation in September 2013. They will be the first new jails on the reservation in more than 30 years, reported the Navajo Times last year. The newspaper previously described the tribe's existing jails as "overcrowded and decrepit." Officers often faced the challenge of having to determine which prisoners were the least dangerous to release to make room for new prisoners.

The tribe is also planning new jails in Chinle, Fort Defiance, Shiprock and Aneth. Officials hope to build the facilities in the next several years as funding becomes available, Delores Greyeyes, the tribe's corrections department director, told the Navajo Times.

Numerous funding sources, including federal stimulus, Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal money, covered the costs of the Tuba City, Crownpoint and Kayenta jails.

A recent increase in salary is expected to attract correctional officer applicants, Greyeyes said. "A beginning corrections officer currently makes $23,500," she said. Now employees will start at $29,300, a nearly 25 percent increase in pay.

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The corrections department is looking to add 160 employees to the current 80-member staff. Hiring will begin in about two months and new corrections officers will complete four to five weeks of intensive training. The course will cover the proper way to handle prisoners and safety procedures for the protection of both prisoners and staff.

New officers will also be trained on how to handle prisoners with behavioral health problems. Many Navajos who end up incarcerated suffer from chronic health problems or mental problems caused by failure to take their medication.

Housing throughout the reservation is scarce, so the issue of where employees will live could present a problem. But Greyeyes notes that it is common for reservation residents to commute 50 to 100 miles each way for a good job. Also, many tribal members will be happy to move back home and live with their families.

"We are glad to bring back Navajos who moved away for one reason or another and are now looking to return to their homes," Greyeyes said.

Those interested in applying should contact the Navajo Nation's Personnel Department or any DPS office.