The jail on the Wind River Indian Reservation is being renovated, and while it’s under construction people brought in for minor offenses are let go with a notice to appear in court instead of being held like they normally would be. Minor offenses are mostly alcohol related, like public intoxication, simple assault, trespassing, and disturbing the peace.
Chief Judge of the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Court, John St. Clair, says only about 10% of people who are issued a notice to appear actually appear.
“What they do is if they get crowded then…Saturday night or whatever, they’ll release a couple of people. Have them come back the next week, or a little later, then the person comes back at the time… supposed to come back, and that’s the problem,” says St. Clair, laughing. “When they come back then they just go to court like they were brought straight over.”
St. Clair says tracking people down for these minor offenses creates a lot of extra work. The women’s side of the jail recently underwent renovation, and construction on the men’s side started in December, so both sexes are currently sharing the women’s quarters. It’s not clear when the project will be completed.