Public Safety

Johnson County officials condemn 'vile' writings of Muscatine County Jail chief

For years, Johnson County has sent some inmates there to be held

The Muscatine County Jail Friday, August 19, 2011 in Muscatine, Iowa. (Beth Van Zandt/The Muscatine Journal)
The Muscatine County Jail Friday, August 19, 2011 in Muscatine, Iowa. (Beth Van Zandt/The Muscatine Journal)

IOWA CITY — “Vile” and “insulting” are words Johnson County officials use to describe the writings of a Muscatine County Jail official who has expressed anti-Muslim and homophobic sentiments online.

During a work session Wednesday, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek are scheduled to discuss those writings and what they mean to a long-standing relationship between the two county jails.

The sheriff’s office here has had an agreement for years with Muscatine County to house extra jail inmates there. In fiscal 2019, the county spent about $625,000 to house inmates there.

As of Tuesday, neither Pulkrabek nor Board of Supervisors Chairman Rod Sullivan suggested the relationship would change.

“I have a good relationship with the sheriff,” Pulkrabek said of his Muscatine County counterpart. “I anticipate having a conversation with him about it. I don’t have any preconceived notions about how that’s going to go.”

Earlier this month, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported on the writings of Muscatine Jail County Administrator Dean Naylor, and on videos he has published on YouTube. In one post, Naylor writes that “Muslims are at war with Christians and Jews”

“Muslims also do not want any use for Christians,” Naylor wrote, according to the news website’s report. “They will attack and kill any ‘infidel.’ And ‘infidel’ is anyone who does not believe in Islam or in other words worship ‘Satan.’ This includes both Christians and Jews.”

Naylor also asserts that Muslims are unknowingly worshipping Satan.

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“Allah is Satan, no doubt,” he wrote. “Christians need to wake up and understand this. The Muslim world is bowing 5 times a day to the devil and they don’t know it.”

In the same writing, Naylor refers to “the gay lifestyle” an “an abomination.”

Iowa City Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih, the city’s first Muslim elected official, said she can respect religious differences, but called Naylor’s writing and publication of his views “concerning.”

“It really made me mad,” Salih said. “I’m glad I’m living in a county that I am proud of our five supervisors. They always protect all of the people in the community, regardless of their beliefs or religion.”

Pulkrabek and Sullivan condemned Naylor’s writings.

“I find his opinions insulting,” Pulkrabek said. “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around someone I know who personally holds those beliefs and sincerely holds those beliefs.”

Sullivan called Naylor’s views “vile.”

“Obviously, you can see that why when board members saw that they were concerned,” he said.

Johnson County has housed jail inmates in Muscatine County for years. In August, however, Pulkrabek told The Gazette that Muscatine County was “looking for other opportunities” and there were fewer beds available for Johnson County inmates. The sheriff’s office started sending more of its inmates to the Louisa and Lee County jails.

According to the current jail roster — which is reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic — there are four Johnson County inmates being housed in the Muscatine County Jail.

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Sullivan said he does not have any preconceived notion about how Wednesday’s discussion on Naylor’s views will go. He did feel it was vital to discuss the situation, see how the county wishes to respond and ensure any inmate housed in the Muscatine County Jail is being treated fairly and legally.

“I think we just have to discuss it and see where our board members’ heads are,” Sullivan said. “What I want going forward is the public knows that anybody Johnson County has custody of is afforded every single one of their civil liberties all of the time.”

Salih said she was encouraged that the board was discussing Naylor’s writings and said she looks forward to hearing their thoughts on the issue. She said the discussion will send a “clear message about how to treat people in our county.”

Pulkrabek said this is the first he has ever heard of Naylor’s writings, and he has not received any information to suggest Naylor’s beliefs have affected the jail environment. While Naylor’s views have led Pulkrabek to rethink his relationship with Muscatine County, he believes a productive conversation with the sheriff there can allow that arrangement to continue.

“I think we can move forward and continue at this time being much more aware of the situation and paying attention to it,” he said.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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