Place Category: Specialized Court Projects
- WANBLI WICONI TIPI JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER
ROSEBUD SIOUX TRIBE
- PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
- PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION
- PROGRAM OUTCOMES
Summary: Wanbli Wiconi Tipi is a juvenile detention center operated by the Rosebud Sioux Tribelocated on a 48-acre site north of Rosebud, South Dakota. WanbliWiconi Tipi offersstructured care and a safe and healthy environment for tribal youth law violators in either a 36-bed secure facility or an alternative sentencing, day-use, non-secure facility. Adjudicated youth receive schooling and supportive social services, and participatein Lakota cultural activities. The physical and program design of WanbliWiconi Tipi incorporate Lakota imagery, values, and traditions, and hold family and community engagement at their center.
Rosebud SiouxTribe (Sicangu Lakota Oyate)
Program Running Length:
May 2005 – Present
Miskoo Petite Sr.
26628 US Highway 18
Mission, South Dakota 57555
Rosebud, SD, in Todd County, which is in south-central South Dakota.
The Rosebud Sioux Reservation is located on 922,759 acres in south central South Dakota with 884,874 acres held in trust, representing 15% of the Great Plains region. The Reservation borders the Pine Ridge Reservation on its northwest corner and the state of Nebraska to the south.The original boundaries and service area of the Reservation include the counties of Todd, Mellette, Trip, Gregory and part of Lyman.Tribal headquarters are located in Rosebud, South Dakota. There are twenty communities within the Reservation.
The estimated tribalenrollment is 24, 000 members, with over 80% living on the reservation. Nearly half of the tribal population is under 21 years of age. In many areas of social, behavioral, health, and economic determinants, such as poverty, health problems, unemployment and housing, tribal members are at or near the lowest levels according tostate and federal well-being indicators. For example, while the potential labor force is about 16,177, the Tribe has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country of approximately 85%.
In 2000, the Rosebud Children’s Court reported that 539 youth ages 10 to 17, 337 males and 202 females, were defendants in cases heard by the court. Over 50% of the youth were 17 years old. The majority were at least two grade levels behind, if they were attending school at all, and many came from homes with substance abuse present. The most frequent charges were underage consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, vandalism, aggravated assault, theft, and domestic abuse. 410 of the charges were alcohol-related.
Depending on the charge, these juveniles were released to their parents, placed on probation, referred to the newly developed Youth Wellness Court, or detained.Those detained were held in off-reservation juvenile detention centers or boarding schools since there was no facility on the reservation to hold juvenile offenders. These facilities did not offer adequate educational and cultural programming to meet the needs of tribal youth.Additionally, the youth did not receive an assessment or any referrals for counseling, treatment, or other services until after their fifth offense.
In addition to underage consumption of alcohol, possession of drugs and gang activity are the biggest problems plaguing the Rosebud youth. This destructive behavior carried over to school attendance. Truancy resulted in some students falling behind in school.There have been some efforts to address these issues—citations were issued and youth were transported to off-reservation facilities. However, these efforts were inadequate in addressing the many problems affecting the tribal youth. The dearth of resources and services was exacerbated by the lack of consequences and mechanisms in place to holdyouth accountable for their destructive behavior.The Rosebud Juvenile Detention Center, WanbliWiconi Tipi (WWT), offers structured care for tribal youth law violators and their families with a special emphasis on the youth of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. These tribal youth are between the ages of 12 and 17. Some are homeless or have no acceptable place to dwell. Many have experienced trauma due to suicide or family violence, and come from families affected by substance abuse.
Additionally, participants in the day reporting program include those who have persistent truancy issues and have a case in the truancy court;youth who are sentenced to probation through youth court;and youth who are released from the detention center after serving a sentence.In 1998, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe was awarded a $9 million Department of Justice grant to build a juvenile detention center. At the time, there was resistancewithin the community to the idea of “locking kids up,” as the community placed a high value on healing, reconciliation, and education. For the Rosebud Sioux, children are sacred, so the community felt the grant funds could be used to create positive programs like a Boys and Girls Club instead of building a facility meant to detain their youth. However, since the funding came from the Department of Justice, it needed to be applied to juvenile justice rather than preventative measures.
A Planning Team was convened and met once a week throughout all stages of the project—Planning, Construction, Oversight, and Occupancy. The Planning Team consisted of stakeholders and policymakers who understood and could organize the tribal systems of care. Team members included representatives from Tribal Council, BIA Corrections, the Children’s Court, and others. Law enforcement did not have a significant role due to the project’s focus on education, culture and rehabilitation.
With so much animosity from the community, the Planning Team needed to engage the community and coordinate an approach that garnered community-wide buy-in for the project. The project allowed for the community to share their views and expectations of the juvenile justice system. The community’s feedback actually helped make WWT a “softer” facility that focuses on restorative justice, healing, education, and traditional practices, rather than on detention.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Juvenile Detention Center opened on May 23, 2005. It carries the Lakota name, WanbliWiconi Tipi, provided by the elders, which translates to Eagle Life Center. This name serves as a reminder to the staff and community that the youths’ safety and well-being need to be safeguarded, as they represent the future of the community. With this in mind, the facility was designed in a culturally significant way. Taking a look at the aerial view of the facility, its shape represents a man with his arms outstretched–the circular library is the head and the indoor and outdoor basketball courts are the arms. A dedicated spiritual room is the heart of the facility, and is where ceremonies take place.The WWT mission statement asserts that, “WanbliWiconi Tipi offers structured care for tribal youth law violators and their families with special emphasis on the youth of Rosebud Sioux Tribe. This will be done through a safe and healthy environment for the youth and staff. Adjudicated youth will receive contemporary schooling and services as well as tribal disciplinary practices addressing all aspects of the Lakota culture to restore cultural, societal, and kinship values and healthy families.” The principal goal of WWT is to rehabilitate youth by using restorative justice, Lakota culture, and community resources. WWT is also responsible for the safekeeping, care, and custody of all residents held in the facility. However, their commitment extends beyond safekeeping and custody to providing opportunities for youth to learn and grow.WWT is a 36-bed, 55,000 square foot facility designed and operated by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The facility is divided into two sections: secure and non-secure. The secure sectioncontains 36 beds in individual cells (23 beds for males and 13 beds for females). There are four levels of security within the facility: maximum, medium, minimum, and day treatment, which is located in the non-secure section of the facility.The maximum security area is for youth experiencing behavioral problems. The day treatment portion is for youth who are sentenced to the day reporting program as a condition of their release.
The non-secure section is reserved for alternative sentencing, such as day treatment, and youth transitioning to release. There are eight classrooms and a library in the non-secure section of the facility.65% of the facility is reserved for programs and services and the remaining 35% is residential space.In typical juvenile detention centers, those percentages are reversed. This illustrates the emphasis WWT places on education, which is the primary focus.
WWT operates a 40-seat Day Report School, which serves as an alternative to detention. The Day Report School is an intermediate sanction in the Rosebud juvenile justice system,and allows for the Children’s Court to monitor juveniles as they transition back into the community. It is also designed to get the students on track educationally with a curriculum specially designed for incarcerated youth. The day reporting participants are bussed in daily, Monday through Friday, and are court-ordered to attend.
Students attend school Monday through Friday, 9am to 3pm. WWT partners with the Todd County school district to deliver a state certified curriculum to the students. The curriculum allows the students to catch up on classwork and get back up to grade level. The students use a computer-based program called Odyssey Ware, which gives the teacher the ability to monitor the students’ progress and assignments remotely.
WWT and the Court have implemented a few strategies to encourage family participation. Parents or guardians are required to complete a registration packet before students can attend school. The Court can also mandate parental participation at WWT. In certain cases, parents are mandated to undergo assessments and treatment to provide a safe home environment for the youth.
Throughout WWT, there is extensive emphasis on cultural education and activities, including traditional healing, culturally-based counseling, culturally relevant offsite excursions, infusion of culture in daily activities, and Lakota history education. WWT engages students in cultural material in both direct and indirect ways. For example, a prayer circle begins the day, but allows for students to pray in their own way.The students can also use the sweatlodge located on the grounds. Community members also teach the youth about traditional Lakota practices. For cultural ceremonies like Sundance, the court allows for temporary release.WWT also offers a wide range of programming, in partnership with organizations on and around the reservation, not only to keep the students busy but also to teach them important skills. Theseprograms include moral reasoning, values, culture, and language classes.
In 2009, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) awarded a 4-year Green Reentry grantto the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. This funding was for the provision of services to help detained and reentering youth successfully reintegrate into the community through the use of green technologies and environmentally sustainable activities. Each grantee was required to establish a partnership with a higher learning institution with expertise in green technology. WWT partnered with SinteGleska University, a tribally chartered higher education institution on the Rosebud Reservation, to incorporate green technologies into a comprehensive reentry program for the youth sentenced to the day reporting program, called Ina MakaNikiyapiOkolakiciye (“Helping Mother Earth Live Society”). Participation in the Green Reentry program is ordered as a condition of supervision. Currently, youth housed in the 36-bed secure detention center are not eligible to participate in most Green Reentry activities because of security constraints. These youth do participate in some projects while detained, but given that most youth are released from detention to the day reporting program, they are eligible to participate in the full set of activities after their release.
The Green Reentry funding was intended to achieve the following goals:
- To provide services to help detained and reentering youth successfully reintegrate into the community, using risk and needs assessments, educational and vocational programming, mental health services, substance abuse programs, family strengthening, and extended reentry aftercare;
- To support the development of partnerships to help the Tribe implement green technologies and environmentally sustainable activities and to create long-term environmental and economic benefits to the Tribe; and
- To support the Tribe’s ability to implement, monitor, and maintain tribal juvenile detention standards.
Through this program, WWT is using agricultural and green technologies as a platform to deepen pride in traditional tribal culture, foster community service, promote academic and vocational skills, and reduce alcohol and other drug use. Green Reentry activities take place in the classrooms and on the grounds of WWT, with field trips for cultural activities and service learning projects taking place in the community. The componentsof the Green Reentry program include organic farming, beekeeping, raising chickens, growing soybeans for biodiesel fuel, recycling, environmental education, and community service learning projects. In the early stages of the Green Reentry program, the students were involved in developing the plot, building the fence, and doing ongoing planting, maintaining and harvesting tasks. The students use the harvested crops to make pickles and salsa, which, along with the other goods produced (honey, vegetables, herbs, biodiesel fuel) are given away to the community and elders in need. The students receive education in planting, soils, irrigation, water conservation, recycling, composting, wind energy, solar energy, alternate fuels, and other related topics. The university also offers training in packaging, marketing, and sales.
Through a partnership with SinteGleska University and several faith-based organizations, WWT was able to dedicate 2 rooms to arts and crafts, allowing the students to learn traditional Lakota arts like beading and making regalia. There is also a woodshop equipped with tools the youth can use for small wood projects. The facility has several outdoor recreation yards, which are used for a variety of purposes, such as a horse program, and 2 outdoor basketball courts. There is a full-size gym offering the students ample space to participate in physical activities. WWT stresses the importance of health and physical activity, and teaches the youth how to take care of their bodies and participate in positive activities while developing their interpersonal communication and teamwork skills.Youth are required to participate in a morning 25-minute moderate exercise routine consisting of a warm-up, stretching, calisthenics, and a cool down.
The daily routine of the detained youth is as follows:
6:30am – Wake up / Personal Hygiene
7:00am – Breakfast / Clean up
8:00am – Prayer Circle / Fitness Routine
9:00am – School
12:00pm – Lunch
1:00pm – School
3:00pm – Programs (study hall, arts and crafts, Lakota language, gang diversion, life skills, girl scouts, anger management, wood shop, beading, Bible study, and presentations from volunteers)
5:00pm – Dinner
6:00pm – Free time (open gym, reading, television, gardening, board games)
8:00pm – Snacks
10:00pm – Lights out (weekdays)
11:00pm – Lights out (weekends and holidays)The non-secure sector of WWT houses the administrative offices, the Children’s Court, and the day reporting classrooms. Management of WWT is comprised of the Facility Administrator, Detention Supervisor, Program Specialist, Mental Health Director, Facility Plant Manager, and Office Manager.
WWT has about 28 staff, the majority of which are tribal members. There are 5 staff in the Administration Department, which includes the Facility Administrator, Office Manager, and Secretary/File Clerk. The Detention Department includes the Detention Supervisor, Training Officer, 3 Shift Sergeants, and numerous detention officers.The correctional officers participated in Psychological First Aid training as part of a tribally-approved research project partnership with University of South Dakota graduate students.All program staff are certified in the Basic Correctional Training Program. Some of the staff received training on and have implemented evidence-based practices called Juvenile Assessment and Intervention System (JAIS) and Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT).
Currently, WWT is operating with a minimum-staffing plan of 20 detention staff, which provides 3 officers per shift. With such low staffing, WWT is at risk of reducing bed capacity because OJJDP mandates a staffing ratio during day shifts of 1:8 and at night of 1:16 to ensure a safe and secure environment for juveniles. WWT’s original staffing plan, developed in accordance with a formula by the National Institute of Corrections, has a total of 35 detention staff. To hire an additional 15 staff, base funding will need to be increased by $450,000.
The Program Specialist and Assistant Program Specialist coordinate the various programs at WWT. They coordinate the volunteers, manage the volunteer schedule, liaise between the juveniles and court, advocate for and assist juveniles who are in treatment, ensure parents complete required paperwork, and file disciplinary reports.
The Education Department is comprised of 5 certified teachers, 2 paraprofessionals, a part-time nurse, and a part-time secretary. The Education Department is funded through the Todd County School District. When WWT first opened, the Children’s Court was not housed in the facility, but in 2008 the Children’s Court relocated to WWT. This move limited transportation of juveniles outside of the secure facility, to prevent contact with adult offenders in accordance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
There are 5 grant-funded positions at WWT. The Sicangu Youth Diversion Program is funded by a grant from the Department of Justice, and is managed by a Lead Youth Diversion Officer with support from the Assistant Youth Diversion Officer. The Program Manager/Case Manager and Assistant Case Manager administer the Green Reentry program. A clinical psychologist is also on staff through the Youth Resiliency Project, funded by OJJDP.
In 2013, an in-house database system was developed for maintenance work requests and youth behavioral documentation, which ensures better tracking and timely, coordinated responses.As mentioned, detention is used only as a last resort and there are many alternativesavailable. When a youth is first arrested, the patrol officer takes them into custody. Once at WWT, a detention officer does an intake, and the youth is heldfor up to 48 hours before their case is heard at the Children’s Court. Intake is the most secure portion of the facility for both staff and youth and allows the patrol officer to pull into the vehicular sallyport to escape from the extreme weather conditions of South Dakota.
The arrest phase keeps the youth safe, prevents the youth from re-offending before being seen by the court, and ensures that the youth attends their hearing. If the youth is a first time offender, they can enter the First Offender program, which consists of six mandatory weekly meetings that address key topics related to delinquency and prevention. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Alcohol Program administers the First Offender Program. Alternatively, the youth can be diverted to the Wellness Program.
If not a first time offender, graduated sanctions are imposed. If the youth has been booked only once before, there is less severe punishment, such as diversion to the Wellness Program, mediation, or sentencing to the Day Report School as a condition of their probation. If the youth has been booked for a third or fourth time, a detention hearing takes place, and if the youth are sentenced to detention, they can receive a sentence of up to 4-6 weeks in addition to treatment programs and alcohol assessment. Upon release, the youth continue to attend the day reporting program and strategies are configured for the successful reentry into the community.The Children’s Court works with WWT to provide a holistic service approach to the youth.The Rosebud Sioux Tribe was awarded a $9 million grant from the Department of Justice to build the facility, which was suggested by then Tribal Vice President William Kendell. In addition, the Tribe negotiated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to combine both Adult (facility constructed in 2013) and Juvenile detention services into one P.L. 93-638 contract, which was approved in October 2008. Along with additional funding, the contract provided that the management of WWT would also provide administration to the adult jail and work to meet corrections standards there. In 2009, the Tribe received a $280,000 grant from the BIA for the operation and maintenance of WWT and for various construction activities on Tribally-owned buildings.
In 2009, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) awarded the Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry Demonstration (Green Reentry) grant to the Tribe. The grant provided up to $700,000 for 4 years, including an initial planning year and 3 years of service delivery. Funding under the Green Reentry grant ended in 2014, with an approved 12-month extension.
In 2015, WWTwas awarded a Community Innovation grant from the Bush Foundation to develop a master business plan for a youth-run hydroponic farm and to create a curriculum to teach health, nutrition, and job skills at the facility. The $198,076 grant will also be used to strengthen and expand the facility’s existing hydroponic garden, greenhouse, and beehive operations.
Unfortunately, overall funding has decreased annually since the opening of WWT. WWT was drastically impacted by the federal sequester, which resulted in no increased appropriations in 2012, a 5.3% cut in 2013, and an 8.7% cut in 2014. Also, the program is growing due to the opening of the adult correctional facility, funding for which has not been timely. In FY 2005, the total budget for WWT was $2 million, which supported the required staffing recommended by the National Institute of Corrections staffing plan formula. With the addition of the adult correctional facility in 2008, which was operating on carry-over budget funding allocated to the Chief of Police, WWT has had to continuously re-design and update staffing to assure adequate coverage. WWT has taken additional measures to reduce spending, which includes cutting vacant positions and reduction of staff (Receptionist, Program Specialist Assistant, one Shift Sergeant, and one assistant cook). Overtime, training, travel, advertising, and summer school have also been reduced. To create some revenue, WWT plans to negotiate with local jurisdictions to contract out its excess bed space–the State of South Dakota, Mellette County and the BIA have expressed interest.When WWT was preparing to open, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe requested assistance from Justice Solutions Group (JSG) to review and improve the effectiveness of the Tribe’s system of care for juvenile offenders. JSG is a nationally recognized juvenile and criminal justice consulting firm. Initially, the community was opposed to the detention facility, so the Tribe was particularly interested in reaching an understanding of the appropriate role of detention within the framework of the juvenile justice process. JSG conducted workshops, in conjunction with the SinteGleska University Reclaiming Futures initiative, which were intended to bring together key decision and policy makers to review the juvenile justice process and participate in planning improvements to the system of care. JSG also worked closely with the WWT planning team to develop a transition and activation planning process for the opening and operation of the new facility.
WWT received technical assistance throughout the Green Reentry grant period from the Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry Resource and Technical Assistance Center, managed by the Education Development Center (EDC). The EDC assisted with program planning, enhancement, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability.In 2007, WWT partnered with SinteGleska University’s Reclaiming Futures Initiative to facilitate an entrepreneurial project initiated within the facility. The project, TecaIglukinipi (“the young bringing themselves to a new beginning”), is meant to empower youth at WWT through a business that teaches them traditional Lakota arts and crafts, cultural knowledge, work ethic, money management, and home-based business skills. More importantly, it serves as a venue for traditional Lakota values. The program’s success depends on various community partnerships and volunteers including from the university bookstore, Soldier Woman Art and Gift Gallery, WWT staff volunteers, university staff volunteers, community artists, and business advisors. In 2009, WWT again partnered with SinteGleska University on the Green Reentry grant, as previously described.The largest factor contributing to the success of WWT is the value placed on education. The Rosebud community places their youth in high regard, and typically detention does not fit with that view. However, at WWT, education and culture come before detention—the focus is on rehabilitation and restoration rather than punishment. The students are able to attend school at WWT allowing them to catch up to where they need to be educationally. Most importantly, they are taught Lakota traditions and teachings, allowing them to find pride in their culture and reconnect with their community. By reconnecting the youth to their culture, teaching them positive and useful skills, and addressing their trauma, they can reintegrate into the community in a healthy manner.
Another factor contributing to success is parental and community involvement. WWT strives to build healthy families in order to prevent future youth offending. It is vital to engage the parents and ensure that they are an integral part of the service plan. The Children’s Court understands the importance of a having a healthy home for the youth to return to, so at times, the focus is on rehabilitating the parents as well.WWT is dependent on grants from the BIA and the Department of Justice to operate. And as with many health, education and law enforcement programs throughout Indian Country, tribes have to compete against each other for funding. Every couple of years WWT has to reapply for grants to keep general operations and specific programs going — or they end. For example, WWT will soon lose the clinical psychologist because the federal grant funding for the position has ended.Before construction began, the Planning Team understood that the community and Tribe wanted much more than just a detention center. WWT needed to offer education, Lakota teachings, and prosocial activities, not just beds and a television. The advice the WWT management team has for other tribes seeking to develop a juvenile detention center is to “add classrooms, not just beds.”
When the facility first opened, the only communication with the parents was very negative, because many parents were upset that their children were incarcerated. WWT recognized that healthy families are vital to ensuring that the youth continue to live a positive life after release. SWWT saw the parents as a resource and began to integrate them into their interventions with great success.
WWT is evaluated multiple times per year, when youth and staff are provided an opportunity to confidentially and anonymously voice their concerns and provide feedback. These surveys have been very useful in making both major and minor changes within the facility and its operations. It is also helpful in providing insight into how staff and youth feel about WWT. After nearly 6 years in operation and increased parental involvement, WWT surveyed the parents as well. The parent evaluation is one of the first attempts to engage the parents in a formalized process to ensure they have a voice in program operations and policy. The information collected was used in the development of programming, policies and procedures.In 2006, a year after opening, WWT booked 380 youth, 109 of which were repeat offenders. In 2010, there were 402 intakes and 396 youth were booked, 96 of which were repeat offenders. Youth spent an average of 2.47 days in holding and an average of 58 days in residential housing.
In 2013, there were a total of 452 bookings, 275 males and 177 females. The most common charges were underage consumption, assault, and disorderly conduct. The average length of stay in intake/holding was 3.57 days and the average length of stay in residential housing was 58.4 days. The average daily population was 15 in residential housing. There were a total of 195 youth in the Day Report program.As of early 2014, there were 20 students in day school for intermediate sanctions.From the beginning, the community had the best interests of the youth in mind and did not think detention was the answer. So, to create community support and buy-in for WWT, the Tribe incorporated community and tribal values into its development. Elders and spiritual leaders played a crucial part in the construction and curriculum development, and community involvement has continued to the present. Community members and organizations volunteer to teach the youth about Lakota culture, life skills, and other important topics.Now the community understands the importance of the work at WWT and has continued to volunteer their time and expertise to educate the students on various topics.As a result of WWT’s emphasis on education, the students are seeing success in the classroom. Some students have reversed the negative effects of their truancy by catching up to their grade, with some students graduating on time. One student graduated from high school at 16 years old. In addition to the educational curriculum, the students also learn specialized knowledge such as beekeeping and gardening. After release, one student received a job with higher pay because of the knowledge he gained while in WWT.
- WWT Parent Evaluation
- WWT Annual Report FY 2013
- Early Implementation Experiences of OJJDP’s Tribal Green Reentry Programs
- Presentation 2010 Program Statistics and Parent Survey Results
- Experiences with Incorporating Culture into Tribal Green Reentry Programs
- Organizational Chart
- WWT Virtual Tour (YouTube video)
- WANBLI WICONI TIPI JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER
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