By Scott McKie B.P.
One Feather staff
Cherokee needs a jail. This has been said by many tribal leaders and concerned community members for years. The idea of a Cherokee Justice Center has been talked about in recent years, and a recent grant will make that dream one step closer to reality.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has received a grant from the Department of Justice for $18,000,000 for the construction of a correctional facility. The funding was announced last week as a part of over $236 million being allocated to Indian Country in Recover Act and FY 2009 public safety funding.
Principal Chief Michell Hicks commented, “I, the Vice Chief, Tribal Council and the Deputies have worked tirelessly towards the development of the Tribal Justice Center. This announcement that the Eastern Band has been awarded such a large sum of money for the construction of this Justice Center makes me proud and reminds me of the importance of developing relationships with federal representatives. This Justice Center will provide for the safety and security of our enrolled members and will help us work with our prisoners. I would like to thank all of those involved in developing the concept, planning the Justice Center and securing this grant for its construction.”
Information from the DOJ states, “The vital support to tribal communities includes more than $224 million in Recovery Act funding to construct and renovate prisons and jails in Indian Country and nearly $12 million to enhance and improve the juvenile justice systems for American Indian and Alaskan Native youth throughout the country.”
Dr. Mickey Duvall, EBCI Economic Development director, said, “As Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Economic Development director, I would like to offer high congratulations to our Division’s Grants Coordination Department headed by Tribal Grants Coordinator, Mr. Jason Lambert. Mr. Lambert played a significant role in obtaining an $18 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grant awarded for construction of a correctional facility on tribal lands with an application that was airtight and focused directly on grant specifics.”
Dr. Duvall continued, “Given the dollar amount, this grant was highly competitive among Native American Indian Tribes throughout the United States. This particular grant is one of the highest amounts ever awarded to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Again, hats off to Mr. Jason Lambert and all the Tribal Grants Coordination Department for an exceptional job!”
Jason Lambert, Tribal Grants Coordinator, stated, “The competition, administered by the Department of Justice, awarded 20 projects across the country. The EBCI was the only tribe east of South Dakota to receive an award. The funds will be used to implement portions of the Tribe’s Justice Center Master Plan, specifically, the completion of a 75-bed correctional facility.”
Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli said in a statement, “We have many steps to go in what I know will be a long partnership with tribal communities as the Department of Justice continues to take action on public safety issues in Indian Country. None of these resources will matter if we do not direct them properly and at the issues that matter. The Department may be able to provide funding, but only by working together can we make sure tribal communities get what they need.”