|January 17, 2013
Tribal jail addition nears completion
By Alyssa Nenemay
The new tribal jail cells feature typical amenities like a bed, a table, and toilette/washing station. The cell will also include a television and video monitoring so precise it can zoom in on small objects. (Alyssa Nenemay photo)
PABLO — The first phase of reconstructing the old tribal law enforcement building is near completion and CKN was given a sneak peak into the confines.
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Police Chief Craig Couture gave a tour of how the new building will be used from the booking process to detainment. “Because the building supports functionality, it’s going to make our work more efficient,” he said.
The tour began in the new “sally fort” garage intake area. When the police car enters the room with an inmate, the garage door must be closed in order to automatically unlock the connecting booking room. “In the winter, we’re going to use this garage as a rec area with basketball hoops for the inmates,” said Couture.
The booking room features a secure changing room, a handicap accessible bathroom, and a concrete waiting bench with framing steel beams, which will be used to detain violent inmates. The area also includes a new laundry room, which Couture was particularly excited about.
The “Sally fort” garage is very large and will serve as an intake area. Couture says basketball hoops will be installed in the garage to offer inmates a recreational area during winter months. (Alyssa Nenemay photo)
“You don’t think a laundry room would be important but right now, we’re having to wash the clothes in one area of the building and dry them in another. Now we have one location to do both and that is really going to streamline our staff’s time and energy,” he said.
The addition includes four new jail cells, which can detain 16 inmates. The cells include two steel bunk beds, a steel picnic table, a stainless steel toilette and washing facility, and will also include a television. “The new cameras in these cells are so efficient, if we dropped a quarter on the floor, we could zoom in on the quarter,” Couture said.
Finally, the centerpiece of the entire addition, which Couture personally was able to give input on, is the building’s new site and sound control center. The center will allow the staff to monitor all cellblock hallways from a single location and features the monitoring televisions. The cells’ lighting and televisions can be controlled in the new center as well as the facility’s automatic doors.
The new tribal jail addition includes four new cells, which can hold a total of 16 inmates. (Alyssa Nenemay photo)
“We remodeled the old drunk tank to create the centrally located site and sound control room. That was something I really wanted done. Monitoring everything will be easier for our staff,” said Couture.
Funding for the new addition was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which passed through congress in 2009. The act was a response to America’s economic crisis and aims to create or save existing jobs, spur economic activity, invest in long-term growth, and foster accountability of government spending. “Not a dime will come from tribal funds,” Couture said.
The $1.3 million project took nearly a year to complete. The building’s design needed to meet the American Jail Association’s standards as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Paradigm, an architect company located out of Missoula designed the building and Swank Construction was hired to build it with Indian hiring preference being enforced.
Aside from functionality, Couture said the former jail could not meet the community’s need. “We get filled to capacity often, especially on weekends so some times we have to let non-violent offenders go,” he said. “If people aren’t held accountable, they will continue the behavior.”
The new holding area features a concrete bench with steel beams to handcuff violent inmates. (Alyssa Nenemay photo)
The second phase of the project, which will be the reconstruction of the front part of the law enforcement area, will be set off within a few weeks and expected completion is set for this summer. Couture says use of the nearly completed addition will begin within the next week.
“Every part of our job is going to be better because of the addition,” said Couture. “Every minute saved because of the building’s functionality is going to allow our staff more time to put into our work.”