Jailed and suspended Navajo tribal chairman Peter MacDonald remains in good spirits despite deplorable conditions, his wife said Friday after visiting him in the Window Rock Detention Center.
MacDonald, 61, was sentenced in tribal court a week ago to almost six years in the tribal jail for bribery, ethics and conspiracy convictions. A tribal judge had yet to rule on whether he might be released on his own recognizance or on bail pending an appeal. Meanwhile, the tribe's election board ruled Thursday that his conviction disqualifies him from his re-election bid on the Nov. 6 ballot.His son, Peter "Rocky" MacDonald Jr., 36, was sentenced to 11/2 years in jail for bribery, extortion, theft and conspiracy. He also was jailed.
The elder MacDonald spends his nights in a solitary confinement cell, away from the two nighttime holding areas that each contain 32 beds and other prisoners, Peter Breen, one of his attorneys said.
"He just tells the people to be strong. He's fine. He knows these things take time," Mrs. MacDonald said after her visit.
She said his supporters gather at campaign headquarters daily "cooking, rallying and raising money for his appeal."
Mrs. MacDonald, critical of jail conditions, released a letter signed by 28 inmates pleading for an investigation, though neither of the MacDonalds was among those signing.
"The inmates say it's filthy in there and the food is terrible. Neither the bathrooms nor the showers are disinfected and there's an outbreak of athletes' foot," Mrs. MacDonald said.
She said inmates in the group cells complained that they have to share blankets with one man who has sores on his body.
"The food is not very nutritious and the portions are very small. There is no ventilation in here, the showers and toilets are not disinfected and the bedding is not properly cared for," the letter dated Oct. 24 said.
"Because of the numerous supporters of Mr. Peter MacDonald Sr., we feel that he should be treated with more respect and dignity," it added.
Carolyn Calvin, a spokeswoman for the Navajo police and the jail, said MacDonald has been given "usual meals" with the other inmates.
She said typical meals served at the jail are eggs and toast for breakfast, soup and Navajo frybread for lunch, and dinner similar to lunch.