County Board May Seek New Criminal Justice Center

Monday, December 11, 2017 | by Joe Morey |

Sawyer County Board Supervisor, Jim Schlender Jr, asked for members of the board and the LCO governing board to consider creating a non-binding agreement establishing a committee of persons to come up with a plan for a new Sawyer County Criminal Justice Center.

Schlender said the county has legislation it is considering that asks for a second judge, but in order to have another judge, “We need another courtroom. The county wants to ask for another district attorney, but they need more space. The county government is short on space.”

According to Schlender, the agreement asks both county and tribal to pick some representatives to figure out logistics, funding, how much it would cost, who would be there, architectural designs, and where it would be located.

“We need something that would be accessible to both the county and the tribe,” Schlender said. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs has money available to build something like this. The state has money available to the county for maintenance costs.”

Schlender said the committee could identify some of the services that each side needs. For example, the county needs larger and safer courtrooms. Schlender is also the LCO tribal judge.

“Neither county or tribal courtrooms are safe,” Schlender said. “With violence against judicial officers increasing, we have no real protections. In the last two years, there have been eight or nine shooting deaths against judicial officers. There is an increasing amount of threats against tribal judges too.”

Schlender also said a new criminal justice center could house a newer larger sheriff’s office. “This would be safer and better than walking inmates across the street to the courthouse. They would be in the same building.”

The agreement Schlender asks the county government and tribal government to consider would create a coordinated effort to build a joint criminal justice center that would serve both tribal and county law enforcement efforts.

“This is just asking for a meeting,” Schlender said. “The idea is the representatives of each board come up with ideas and take them back to their boards for further discussion.”

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