– Editor’s Note:
In addition to The Olympian Editorial Board highlighting “who pays if something goes wrong” in the Nisqually Tribe jail contracts, one additional issue that has arisen in this case is about the Constitutional rights of a U. S. citizen arrested in Yelm or other contracting community with the tribal jail, then being sent for incarceration there, and those same rights may not exist at that jail because of the tribe’s sovereign immunity under federal law. Stay tuned.
– From The Olympian Editorial Board
“Jail contracts with Nisqually tribe need closer look”
“South Sound police agencies ought to review their legal contracts with the Nisqually Indian Tribe for housing inmates at the tribal jail near Yelm. Local governments need to rule out any chance their arrangements are not legal under state law, or could be challenged.
The question has arisen because an inmate sent to the tribal jail by the city of Yelm later died in custody. Ed Budge, lawyer for the family of Andrew J. Westling, who died in 2016, has cited a memo from former state attorney general Rob McKenna, who thinks the contracts are not valid under state law.”
“Tribes are sovereign governments and immune from legal claims for damages under federal law unless they explicitly waive the immunity.
As Lacey has proved, tribal jails can be an excellent option for housing city inmates at competitive rates. The issue is who pays if something goes wrong.”
– UPDATE: In the Nisqually Valley News print edition out this afternoon.
In an answer to the Question of the Week about the Yelm’s jail situation, Tony Sirgedas of Eatonville addressed this issue for Yelm succinctly:
“Yelm went with the lowest bid. A facility with no state or federal oversight, no way to hold them to proper standards. The city needs to rethink this contract as it makes them completely liable for the actions of the jail staff and policies that they have no say over. Either that or get ready to pay millions.”
Mr. Sirgedas is correct, and all of these issues were covered in the Nisqually Tribe’s public forum on the then-porpoised jail in 2011. The Yelm Community Blog covered that story extensively back then:
* July 9, 2011
NISQUALLY TRIBAL JAIL CONCERNS –
PUBLIC MEETING TODAY, 2PM
* September 28, 2011
NISQUALLY JAIL PUBLIC FORUM TONIGHT AT 6PM
* October 3, 2011
“TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT”
THIS WEEK: County holds Nisqually Jail public forum
GUEST ENTRY: Preston Collins of Yelm on the jail issue.
* February 3, 2012
UPDATE ON THE NISQUALLY JAIL ISSUE