Illustration of the CenterI've been saving this news for a rainy day, and here it is. This article, "Tribal Justice Center First of Its Kind" by Lisa Kopochinski for Correctional News last September discusses the process the Department of Indian Affairs used to work with Oglala Sioux tribal leaders to develop a new justice and public safety complex on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Architects and builders are working with the tribe to incorporate sustainable principles and technologies, and to adapt the complex to their cultural needs.

The article notes:

For the first time, the new facility will house the entire public safety and justice services in a facility specifically designed by the tribe, for the tribe. A one-stop center for all justice services, the facility is designed to conform to cultural tenets of shared peace, restorative justice, harmony and service and will also contribute to the economy of the reservation — from the earliest stages through final move in. [emphasis added]

Besides the mention of restorative justice being built into the services offered, the collaboration itself strikes me as restorative in nature:

The main focal point of the project is the ceremonial outdoor courtyard, which serves as the organizing element of the design and provides a space for ceremonial events and reflective thought.  Another cultural feature is the ceremonial courtroom, which is being designed based on Native American traditions of circle sentencing and restorative justice.

“The circle is a familiar and traditional element of tribal culture,” explains [John] Cain [, principal of Venture Architects]. “Different from more traditional courtrooms where the judge sits on a raised bench, this courtroom has a flat floor and all participants sit around a circle. It is a dialogue that allows participants to participate equally in the process as part of a discussion that will hopefully lead to restoration.”

I'm keeping my eyes open for when this project is complete. But for now, you can read the entire story here.



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