The Western Diné Justice Center opened its doors on February 17 as Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly referred to the center as a new era for Navajo Public Safety.
“Today is a great day for the Navajo Nation. We are beginning a new era of public safety on the Navajo Nation,” Shelly said in front of a crowd of more than 500 people.
The center is a 134,429 square feet facility that will house Navajo district courts, peacemakers courts, law enforcement, prosecutors and a corrections facility. The center which cost $62 million to build, in one of 14 planned justice centers to be constructed throughout the Navajo Nation under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 which made about $74 million available to the Navajo Nation for the projects according to a Navajo press release.
The next center to be dedicated will be in Crownpoint, New Mexico with a March opening. Two other centers in the works, the Kayenta center is expecting to be completed early 2014, and plans for a Chinle center aim for construction to begin next month.
“Today we are taking a huge step for our future because along with the judicial part of this complex, we have an area for our young Navajo people who need extra guidance,” Shelly said.
The Navajo culture will be incorporated in the corrections rehabilitation program at the 132-bed center that will house a teen and adult correctional facility.
Vice President Rex Lee Jim blessed the center before it’s opening on February 17.
In 2009, Shelly then vice-president, created a Navajo based stimulus plan when ARRA funding was being outlined – the plan brought in $550 million in funding to the Navajo Nation according to the release.
Shelly also thanked the Navajo Council Budget and Finance Committee for securing about $60 million in funding through a Key Bank loan.