NAVAJO NATION - As the time nears for the completion of three new jail facilities within the Navajo Nation, Department of Corrections Manager Delores Greyeyes wants to clear up the misinterpretation that the justice system comprises solely of jails.
"It's not just jails that we're building, that's the misconception," said Greyeyes. "We're actually building justice centers and placing court buildings that will house district court staff, judges, clerks, probation officers, public defenders, and prosecutors at each location."
The Department of Corrections for the Navajo Nation wants new justice centers, courts, and corrections facilities that will also now have the proper space for rehabilitation and other services that they could previously not provide.
"A large programming area in the correctional facilities will be for us to bring in resources so we can provide intervention work," added Greyeyes. "Compared to what it is right now, mostly we are just holding and not providing any services because there are no spaces available for that kind of work at this time."
Hiring has already begun, and about 25 vacant positions across the Navajo Nation are currently available. Corrections officers need to have at least a high school diploma, a year of experience in some form of security work, and during their first year of employment must attend the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico. This "certification training" academy lasts approximately 5-8 weeks.
Corrections officers are trained on inmate management, defensive tactics, booking, case management, and other physical training techniques. They will also be trained on how to handle prisoners with behavioral health problems since many Navajos who end up in detention centers have chronic health or mental problems caused by failure to take their medication.
According to Greyeyes, the jails, courts, and justice centers will all be opened in phases over the next two or three years. Depending on funding from the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), among other sources, the phases will be completed quicker.
The 132-bed Tuba City facility and 48-bed Crownpoint facility are scheduled to be completed by November, with expectations of operations beginning around February of 2013. The 80-bed Kayenta jail is expected to be completed by September of 2013.
Greyeyes said they are currently in the process of hiring their team for the Chinle project, which will have another corrections facility hopefully finished by the end of next year. The facility in Crownpoint will be used as a prototype to build facilities in Fort Defiance and Shiprock as well.
Every facility will have Navajo Employment Preference, as is standard practice within the Navajo Nation. And while hiring and training efforts will be intense in the next few months, the main problem for some new employees might be finding housing, which is scarce throughout the reservation.
But a good, stable job might attract commuters who live 50 miles or more away. Plus, the Navajo Nation Department of Corrections hopes to hire people already living on the reservation or bring those back who maybe have moved away.
People interested in applying for a job at one of the new facilities should contact the Navajo Nation's Personnel Department or any Division of Public Safety (DPS) office. For additional information visit the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety website at nndps.sks.com.