OLYMPIA, Wash. — On Feb. 21 the Nisqually Indian Tribe dedicated a new, culturally sensitive public safety complex on the Nisqually Reservation. The complex features several support buildings and a modern, 288-bed minimum-security jail that will soon house low-risk inmates.
The complex consists of a 28,000-square-foot core support building and two 7,650-square-foot housing units. Along with the jail, the new public safety complex also includes a 6,000-square foot warehouse for storage, maintenance and laundry needs, a 4,000-square foot recreation building, and office space for tribal law enforcement, corrections officers, and administrative and maintenance staff. A sophisticated security and monitoring system has been integrated throughout. Altogether the complex will employ roughly 80 people.
The jail’s low-risk housing areas were built using wood frame construction, while the more secure facilities utilized steel frame and masonry block. Future expansions will likely include six residential buildings, a courthouse and a fire station.
Despite the correctional nature of the complex, the tribe specifically requested a design that was conducive to restorative justice. A healing circle greets visitors at the main entrance to the complex, which also contains dedicated areas for spirituality, counseling and family visitation.
WHH Nisqually Federal Services provided a management team to oversee construction of the 48-acre complex. Site development and design were conducted by KMB Design of Olympia beginning in 2009. According to KMB, the building design endeavored to blend into the forested surroundings and reflect a northwest native culture.
The facility, which could be expanded to hold up to 576 inmates, will also be utilized by other tribes and as well as non-tribal jurisdictions including Rainier, Tumwater and Yelm. The Lacey City Council, which recently signed off on a three-year agreement with the Nisqually tribe, will also hold misdemeanor offenders at the facility.
Roughly half of the jail’s new inmates will serve sentences averaging 120 days, while the other half will be held pending court arraignments. After all inmates are fully relocated, the tribe’s older 90-bed facility located nearby could possibly be used as a facility for low-risk juvenile offenders.
Throughout construction the new complex garnered some criticism from local residents. Residents were primarily concerned about traffic, safety and the facility’s effect on property values. They also voiced concern about not being given adequate notice about the project, and about the need for the new facility when the nearby Accountability and Restitution Center remains vacant.
The $20 million complex was funded in part by a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The tribe also received a grant from the Justice Department to support construction of the facility in 2009.