Yuroks get grant for court facility

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate January 30, 2013 04:53 pm

The Yurok Tribe’s alternative legal system will soon have a permanent court facility, thanks to a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Yurok Tribal Court plans to house all of its programs in the 3,500 square-foot facility, including mediation, drug rehabilitation case management, and treatment planning, allowing programs to be more efficient.

“We will be able to provide a much better service to the tribal membership if we are all in one place,” said Chief Judge Abby Abinanti in Yurok Today, the tribe’s internal newsletter. “It is our hope that this new facility becomes a beacon of hope for tribal members in crisis.”

Because Yurok Tribal Court currently utilizes a shared space, there is a backlog of cases awaiting hearing, according to Yurok Today.

“Our traditional justice system is one of the greatest expressions of our sovereignty,” said Chief Judge Abinanti. “The facility will be uniquely Yurok and support the philosophy of the people. ”

That philosophy, at least for Yurok Tribal Court, has been one of “restorative justice,” a traditional moral principle of Yurok culture where individuals pay restitution for their crimes as directly as possible to the victims, according to Yurok Today.  

The Multipurpose Justice Center will include a courtroom, holding cell, judge’s chambers, court clerk, mediation, visitation, jury rooms, a multi-purpose room, confidential drug testing space, self-help office, and office space, according to Yurok Today.

The facility will be located on trust land near the Yurok tribal headquarters in Klamath.

The $1 million grant comes from a DOJ program called Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands, used to help tribes construct and/or renovate correctional facilities on tribal lands used for the incarceration of offenders subject to tribal jurisdiction, according to the program’s website.

The design of the facility will reflect Yurok culture, according to Yurok Today.

A conceptual drawing of the facility can be seen in the December 2012 issue of Yurok today, which can be found at www.yuroktribe.org.

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