OJJDP's Reentry Programs for Tribal Youth Incorporate Green Technologies
Photo of the plan for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians' community garden
The plan for the community garden at the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians' Youth Justice Center in Pearl River, MS.

Three tribes are partnering with local universities to include environmentally sustainable activities in reentry programs for youth in detention. Funded through a 4-year fiscal year 2009 grant under OJJDP's Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry Green Demonstration Program, these programs are using agricultural and green technologies as a platform to deepen pride in traditional tribal culture, foster community service, promote academic and vocational skills, and reduce alcohol and other drug use. Services also include tutoring and online educational opportunities as well as substance abuse and mental health counseling.

  • With its OJJDP grant, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is planning a community garden (see photo) at its Youth Justice Center in Pearl River, MS. In consultation with tribal elders, teenagers are planting corn, beans, and squash, which are known as "the three sisters" on account of the central role these foods played in providing sustenance to early American Indians. Youth are also learning about the cycle of planting, nurturing, and harvesting as taught in tribal culture. Mississippi State University, long known for its expertise in agriculture, will assist with the project. The goal is to establish community gardens in each of the Choctaw Indians' eight officially recognized tribal communities, which extend over 35,000 acres of land in rural Mississippi. In addition, elders are teaching youth the traditional tribal language and crafts such as basket weaving, using indigenous plants from the Pearl River, which are dried and died with colors from organic fruits. Profits from the sales of these items will be returned to the detention facility to fund future agricultural and crafts endeavors.

  • The Rosebud Sioux Tribe of Rosebud, SD, is teaming up with Sinte Gleska University, a tribally chartered institution of higher education on the Rosebud Reservation, to incorporate green technologies into a comprehensive reentry program for adjudicated youth ages 12 to 17. The project will include organic farming, bee keeping, and the growing of soy beans for biodiesel fuel. The university will also provide courses to the youth on wind energy, solar energy, and alternate fuels. The goods produced (honey, vegetables, herbs, and biodiesel fuel) will be delivered to community elders who are in need; they also can be sold. The university will also offer training in packaging, marketing, and sales. The Rosebud Sioux Reservation covers 5,000 square miles in south central South Dakota.
  • left quote [The program] uses green technologies as a way to strengthen youth for successful reentry, engaging them in a continual healing journey that promotes individual, familial, and tribal autonomy. right quote

    —Member of Rosebud Sioux Tribe

  • The Hualapai Indian Tribe of Peach Springs, AZ, is providing youth ages 14 to 17 with opportunities to design and build a greenhouse, grow gardens, and landscape on the youth detention center's grounds. Recycling is part of the daily routine. The youth are growing organic traditional Hualapai agricultural plants as well as other vegetables and herbs. They also are being taught to cook traditional meals, using the food that they have grown. An academic program taught by the University of Arizona extension staff and master gardeners will instruct the youth in basic botany, physiology, and plant growth essentials. Enhancing soil through the use of compost and fertilizer, water cycling and irrigation, and pest management are among the topics to be addressed. In cooperation with the Hualapai Housing Department, youth will also be trained in ecologically sound building design by a licensed building contractor. The main portion of the Hualapai Reservation occupies just over 993,000 acres of land.

OJJDP Online Resource Center Supports Tribal Detention and Reentry Programs

Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry Resource Center Web site screenshot
 The Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry
 Resource and Technical Assistance
 Center Web site.

OJJDP offers all grantees and federally recognized tribes training and technical assistance to facilitate program planning, enhancement, implementation, and evaluation around juvenile tribal detention centers and juvenile justice services. The Office has created an online Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry Resource and Technical Assistance Center, which contains information about training and technical assistance, events, and funding opportunities. The Web site also features a searchable database of resources and materials, including published works, peer-reviewed research, curriculums, and other resources that provide the latest information on topics relevant to juvenile detention and reentry and green job training.