By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The old Rocky Boy jail is getting some much needed improvements so the facility can be temporarily opened to possibly house juvenile offenders this weekend in Rocky Boy. Tribal officials said the renovations will bring the facility, which closed three years ago, into compliance with building standards set by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, so the former jail can be opened as a juvenile holding facility during the Rocky Boy powwow - the reservation's busiest weekend of the year.
"There's going to be a lot of people in Rocky Boy this weekend and we're just trying to make sure we're prepared," said Warren Small, a juvenile court counselor in Rocky Boy. "We're not saying anything bad is going to happen, but we're just making sure we're ready if anything does."
Small said crews have spent the last couple of weeks making building improvements like plumbing, lighting, and painting. He said BIA officials from Billings have been on hand to make sure the facility is in compliance with its jail standards.
"We're making sure everything's up to par," Small said Thursday. "All the improvements will be completed by Friday evening."
Having a separate jail facility for juveniles will put Rocky Boy in compliance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, the major federal law overseeing the juvenile justice system. A JJDPA mandate requires that juvenile inmates be detained in a separate jail from adults.
Chippewa Cree tribal council member Jonathan Windy Boy said Chinook has a jail facility to hold juvenile offenders, but housing a juvenile there costs $195 per day.
He said the temporary juvenile facility is a proactive step for the tribe.
"We're hoping we won't have to use it," he said Thursday. "But we're trying to be prepared."
Arthur Windy Boy will serve as operations lieutenant for the temporary jail facility this weekend. He said tribal officials want to ensure that the annual powwow remains a safe and fun event for everyone involved.
"We're not going to tolerate drinking, drugs and gang-related activities," he said Thursday. "We have zero tolerance for that kind of behavior."
Arthur Windy Boy said the temporary juvenile facility will be opened today through Sunday to detain juveniles who commit minor offenses. Juveniles offenders who commit more serious criminal offenses will be detained in Chinook, but they'll face charges in Rocky Boy, according to Small.
Rocky Boy police generally issue summons of offenders who commit minor crimes and release them to their parents, and house offenders of serious crimes in Chinook, Arthur Windy Boy said.
He said Rocky Boy's police department will team with several officers from Fort Peck and Fort Belknap and a BIA officer to provide security during the powwow. In addition to the officers, 14 security guards will also be on hand, watching the inner and outer perimeters of the powwow grounds.