Red Lake settles lawsuit over juvenile justice centerby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Moorhead, Minn. — The federal government has agreed to fund operations of a Red Lake juvenile justice center that's stood empty for more than five years.
The federal government built the new facility, but the Interior Department refused to fund its operations. The tribe sued four years ago.
"We felt like we had an empty monument to all that is wrong with Washington D.C.," said attorney Phil Baker Shenk. "Lack of coordination, herky-jerky contradictory federal policy, insensitive, wasteful. That's resolved with this settlement."
Baker Shenk says the settlement can't make up for years of missed opportunities.
"We've missed a wave of kids which gives us all pangs of regret, but rather than looking backward we're looking forward," said Baker Shenk. "We've got another wave of kids coming through, and hopefully they can benefit from a more creative approach to juvenile justice."
Baker Shenk says the government will provide about $2 million to operate the juvenile justice program for a year. He says once the program is operational, the federal government will likely continue funding it.
He says it will likely take several months for tribal officials to get the program up and running.