Budget Cuts Hamper Opening Of Tribal Jail In SD
by Associated Press
March 16, 2013 2:25 PM
A $25 million jail on the Rosebud Indian Reservation meant to provide cultural and spiritual wellness programs for tribal members charged with crimes was supposed to open earlier this year.
Instead, it sits empty, with inmates being transported to another jail on a reservation nearly three hours away. Officials say the facility is a casualty of automatic spending cuts that have left the Rosebud Sioux Tribe without enough money to pay for the necessary staffing and utilities.
The 67,500-square-foot Rosebud Sioux Tribe Adult Correctional Facility was unveiled during a ceremony with state and tribal leaders Jan. 17. It was expected to house up to 160 male and female inmates with an annual operating budget of $5 million.
Instead, because of the automatic cuts caused by Congress and President Barack Obama failing to reach an agreement on how to reduce the deficit, it's operating on a budget of $840,000.
The jail includes a courtroom for arraignments, classroom space and room for traditional ceremonies, said facility administrator Melissa Eagle Bear. It replaces a smaller facility that doesn't meet safety standards, she said.
The jail needs 25 to 30 workers to open, Eagle Bear said, but officials can afford just 13.
"So we have this nice new facility essentially empty because we just don't have the staffing or the funds to open," she said.
The jail will open in phases, beginning this week with the booking area. People arrested on the reservation will be booked there, then transported to a jail on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe will get $50 for each inmate it houses. About 35 to 40 inmates recently were transported from Rosebud to Pine Ridge, Eagle Bear said.
The jail administrator for the Oglala Sioux Tribe did not return a message seeking comment.
The jail isn't the only Rosebud service affected by the automatic cuts. Head Start, which provides a variety of services for 3- to 5-year-olds, is stopping its services for kids for the year May 7 instead of May 15, said Vonda Pourier, director of Head Start for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
"If parents are sending their children to Head Start and go to child care before and after, that's going to put a burden on them for a provider for those school hours," Pourier said.