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The original item was published from 12/5/2014 10:37:16 AM to 3/1/2015 12:05:01 AM.

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Sheriff's Office

Posted on: December 5, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Sweat Lodge Provides Inmates Access to Traditional Ceremonies

Flagstaff, AZ; The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has several programs to address the traditional needs of our inmate population. One of these programs is the provision of a sweat lodge ceremony, and recently our facility conducted two Sweat Lodge Ceremonies for inmates.

For some Native American cultures the Sweat Lodge Ceremony provides purification and balance of body, mind, spirit and emotions and can serve as a Prayer Circle, or a Healing Circle transforming the Old Self into the New Self. Rocks are heated in a fire pit outside the structure and then brought inside and placed in a small hole in the ground; there is no fire inside the structure. The ceremony is conducted in four parts and might last as long as three hours with breaks. A traditional Messenger helps perform the ceremony. We plan to make Sweat Lodge Ceremonies available to the inmate population on a monthly schedule.

This is one of many programs our facility and staff offer to help inmates initiate positive life changes. The programs include opportunities for life changes supported by spiritual, religious, educational, health, and substance abuse treatment approaches. While the Sheriff’s Office strives to make available recognized religious, recovery and a variety of self-improvement programs to the diverse cultures representing in the inmate population, we also recognize that approximately 50% of the people in our custody are of Native American descent. For this reason our programs include Sweat Lodge and a Hogan which may be unique compared to programs offered at facilities elsewhere in U.S. detention facilities. Partnership with the Navajo Behavioral Health Services has been vital to the success of many of these programs.

At the Coconino County Detention Facility we believe that time spent incarcerated can be turned into productive time, and inmates can leave our facility with improved life skills and a determination to make positive changes in their lives. Many of the programs provided to inmates are funded by the Inmate Welfare Fund which comes from commissary and phone usage fees. We are committed to enhancing inmate programs which benefit not only the inmates in custody but also can have broader reaching effects on our community as a whole.

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Media Contact: Gerry Blair, Coconino County Sheriff's Office, 928-226-5089

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