Saturday, July 30, 2011


We are residents and citizens of Thurston County who are concerned with a project that is currently under construction on the Yelm Highway SE and Highway 510 in Olympia, Washington. The Nisqually Tribe is in the process of building a Regional Jail facility which consists of two phases and up to 576 jail bed space.

We believe that this project was planned and conceived by questionable means with lack of transparency and it imposes not only the risk to our community, but it also creates concern regarding: Our county recently completed construction of a regional jail on the West Side of Olympia; the Account Restitution Center (A.R.C.) The A.R.C. currently stands vacant due to decreased jail inmate population as well as funds to operate it due to the decline of our economy. Thurston County residents paid $45 Million to build this “state of the art” facility. In 2004, the County put a bond measure on the ballot to finance a regional jail. The measure failed.  In November 2007 the County Commissioners considered a ballot measure to pay for the criminal justice costs and the A.R.C. was built anyway against Thurston County residents wishes. As Thurston County residents and taxpaying citizens we do not understand the duplicity of such a huge project. The A.R.C. is already built yet our Federal money is going to the Nisqually Tribe to build yet another Regional Jail when the first one cannot even be utilized?

The property the Nisqually Indian Tribe is currently site clearing for the Regional Jail was ACQUIRED from Fort Lewis to The Nisqually Tribe as a mandate by Congress on or around September 14, 2010. There is documents that show our County commissioners received information and facilitated meetings with the Nisqually Tribe regarding their Regional Jail plans prior to the Nisqually Tribe receiving the parcel of land and prior to the project being Sovereign.

The Nisqually Tribe plans to contract “low-risk inmates” for nearby governments at a lesser rate than our Thurston County jail, these jurisdictions INCLUDE but are not limited to:Port Gamble, Squaxin, Suquamish, Puyallup, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm, Rainier, Tenino, Thurston County, ICE, Swinomish, Skokomish, Ft. Lewis, Nooksak, Washington State DOC and other tribes.OLYMPIA AND THURSTON COUNTY HAVE OFFICIALY INFORMED US THAT THEY DO NOT INTEND TO USE THE NISQUALLY REGIONAL JAIL FOR THEIR INMATES.

The money the Nisqually Tribe will receive for housing these inmates will go to the Sovereign nation rather than if our County was to house the same inmates the money would go back into our economy.

The project is funded with a $10 Million grant from the Justice Department and another $10 Million low-interest loan from the Agriculture Department.

Water Concerns – The soil upon which the jail is being built has no geological classification as it was former Ft. Lewis property and has no designation. The soil directly adjacent to the site is regulated by the McAllister Geologically Sensitive Area designation.Hazardous Waste Issues: The Nisqually jail will have a water treatment facility on site. What is the expected quality of the reclaimed water? Will the reclaimed waste water be returned directly into the ground?  Is it a problem dumping water less than ONE MILE from the McAllister well field?

County and State Concerns – Will the Nisqually Regional Jail operate with the same State standards, bond and liability coverage that our Thurston County Jail operates with. If an inmate escapes, it instantly will become Thurston County’s responsibility to handle the situation since the escape would be a Felony violation and off ‘Reservation’ land. 

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is using Public Lands Highway Discretionary (PLHD) Projects is funding $5 Million to the Nisqually Indian Tribe to replace the SR 510 stop sign-controlled intersections at Reservation Road and Yelm Highway with roundabouts and associated multi-modal facilities.

Prison for Profit Concerns AND Sovereignty Concerns

Federal Grants: Nisqually Tribe’s application and acceptance of money prior to acquiring land.  The Department of Agriculture Loan funding jails?

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