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Programming & Design Guide for Tribal Justice Facilities

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2022
12 pages

This guide provides instructions for organizing and implementing the design of a Tribal justice facility.



The first steps in organizing a facility project are the establishment of a planning committee, appointment of a coordinator, selection of project staff, identification of authorizing authority, and choice of architect. The project begins with three essential planning steps: 1) needs assessment, 2) master plan, and 3) pre-architectural program. Activities for each of these steps are outlined. The second major section of the guide addresses programmatic considerations that inform facility design. These are classified as general considerations, personnel space and needs, booking and admission, housing and residential spaces, recreational spaces, other considerations, and design. The third major section of the guide addresses cultural considerations, with “culture” defined as “the wisdom, traditions, and transmitted values that bind people together from one generation to the next.” The guide recommends collaborations that use federal, Tribal, state, and local partners in designing programs that integrate Western and Native American modalities. The rationale for cultural considerations in facility design is that treatment and services for clients are based on sensitivity to race, are known as culturally directed, and treatment without cultural consideration has been shown to have limited effectiveness. Facility features listed in the guide as pertaining to Tribal culture include geometric shapes, representation of plants, representation of animals, natural light, appropriate materials, appropriate colors, and historical symbols.


Date Published: February 1, 2022