By Shelley Zavlek, president, Justice Solutions Group
The useful life of most secure facilities and/or multi-justice centers is about 35 years, and many are used for 40 to 50 years or longer before being replaced. Therefore, most planning team members may have only one opportunity for involvement in the planning, design and construction of a new justice facility in their entire career. Due to fiscal constraints, it is often difficult or impossible for planning teams to visit new, state-of-the-art facilities to learn from the successes and challenges faced by other communities in developing their new facilities. This is a very critical activity that helps a planning team think outside the “box” of what they are familiar with in their current facilities, which are often very old and antiquated. It is of even greater importance to planning teams that are developing a detention or justice center for communities that have no existing facilities.
In an effort to introduce more facility planning teams and communities to new justice facility designs and features, the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has funded Justice Solutions Group (JSG) to develop a series of facility video tours. The series will contain video tours of juvenile and adult detention and correctional facilities, and multi-justice centers. Each video will focus on unique features of the facility design and related operations.
The pilot video tour was conducted at the Horizon Juvenile Center in the Bronx, N.Y. The video focused primarily on the intake and visiting functions and the design of spaces that facilitate those functions. It also focused on the use of light and visibility to enhance the quality, functionality and safety of secure environments. A rough-cut video was presented at workshops delivered by JSG to 14 facility planning teams in May and June of 2011. The final video reflected revisions that were made based on feedback received from the planning teams.
The second video in this series was developed in collaboration with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and features the Wanbli Wiconi Tipi Youth Wellness and Renewal Center, which is located in south central South Dakota on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. This video explores the impact of the Lakota culture on the programming and design of the Youth Center. Youth in the facility receive contemporary schooling and services as well as tribal practices programming that addresses all aspects of the Lakota culture.
According to facility orientation materials, “Wanbli Wiconi Tipi provides programs that encourage Residents to examine themselves and make a commitment to determine their future by striving to attain Wolakota (balance and harmony in their lives) through the use of Lakota values of Woohitika (Courage), Wacantognaka (Generosity), Wowacintanka (Resilience), and Woksape (Wisdom).”
The facility’s physical environment and programs are designed to help restore healthy families and cultural, societal, and kinship values. The video covers all major components of the facility, which include a full-service detention facility (i.e., intake, housing, school, gym), a day reporting center and a transitional living program. Since the Tribe’s vision for this facility featured such a strong emphasis on Lakota culture and youth programming, this video focuses on those aspects of the facility that reflect that vision including a sweat lodge; healing room; gardening; beading and equestrian programs; the use of murals, colors and circular spaces; and visual access to the outdoors.
“The Lakota children, from the time they deliver the first kick in the womb, are reared and taught morals and behavior through symbols and rituals that best convey the philosophy of the nation. These symbols and rituals show how the people are close to nature, the spiritual realm and kinship to all life forms. This prepares the children and the people to begin living in harmony with what is above and what is below.”