>Users:   login   |  register       > email     > people    

The Quiet Crisis in Native American Juvenile Justice
By Robert Winters, JD, Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Purdue Global University
Published: 06/23/2014

Nativeamericanteen There is a crisis facing the criminal justice system serving Native American youth. The general public has no idea of the challenges facing this group, but when President Barack Obama convened the White House Tribal Nations Conference in November 2013, one of the four major topics on the agenda was violent crime.

Statistics highlight the magnitude of the problem. Although they represent 1% of the U.S. population, Native American juveniles represent 2% to 3% of youth arrests in categories such as theft and alcohol possession. Similarly, they are committed to adult incarceration at a rate 1.84 times that of whites and are placed under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system at a rate 2.4 times that of whites. In four states with substantial Native American populations, they represent from 29% to 42% of juveniles held in secure confinement. The alcohol-related death rate among Native American youth stands at 17 times the national rate. Their suicide rate is triple the national average among males aged 15 to 24. Their high school dropout rate is the highest of any racial group. While at first glance these numbers are bad enough, what makes them even harsher is the fact that the Native American population is a relatively young one: according to the Indian Health Service, in 2008 the median age of the Native American population was 28.0 years versus 35.3 years for the U.S. population as a whole. This means these issues impact a relatively larger portion of the total Native American population.

A look at Native American demographics paints a picture of the source of these sobering numbers. The Native American poverty rate is the country’s second highest at 21% in 2004, behind only to African-Americans at 23% and nearly triple the 8% rate among whites. The high school dropout rate in 2006 was half again the national average at 29.1% compared to 19.6%. Conversely, the baccalaureate degree completion rate is less than half the national rate: 11.5% versus 24.4%. Finally, Native Americans are most likely to suffer from crime, with victimization rates higher than any other U.S. racial group: in 2002 among youth 12 to 17, the rates were 45 per 1,000 for Asians, 95 for whites, and 97 for African-Americans, but 145 among Native Americans. Experts believe that 200,000 Native Americans under age 19 suffer “serious emotional disturbances”—a rate of 10%.

Native Americans entering the criminal justice system tend to be treated with disparate severity. Research that assesses the rates at which Native Americans are handled at various stages using the rate for white juveniles as 1 (with a reading under 1 indicating a lower frequency and above 1 a higher frequency) reveals that while the relative arrest rate for Native Americans is 1.0, referrals resulting from those arrests occur at a rate of 1.3. Diversion to alternative programs occurs at a rate of only 0.9, while detentions occur at a rate of 1.1. Adjudications occur at a rate of 1.1, but while probation is granted at a rate of 0.9, placement per adjudication occurs at a rate of 1.5, as do waivers to adult courts. Amazingly, 79% of all youth in Bureau of Prisons custody are Native American, though this number is distorted somewhat by FBI jurisdiction over Indian Country that places offenders directly into the federal system.

Incarcerated Native American youth also seem to receive disproportionately harsh treatment, including the use of pepper spray, restraints, and isolation. A 2003 lawsuit against a South Dakota training school alleged overuse of the lockdown unit for Native Americans, and one female plaintiff who had spent nearly two years there claimed to have been placed in four-point restraints on a cement slab for hours at a time on multiple occasions.

There are multiple and interrelated causes of these significant gaps in the system. Research by the National Indian Child Welfare Association shows that Native American youth are frequently placed in adult facilities—despite statutes prohibiting contact between adult and minor inmates in a correctional facility—because many of their communities lack dedicated juvenile facilities. This early exposure to a harsh prison environment can result from minor offenses such as truancy or from situations that would not normally warrant confinement, such as an overdose.

Native American youth also tend to find themselves isolated in the justice system. Consequently the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has published guidance for a tribal court CASA (court-appointed special advocate) program.

Finally, the Native American community must deal with a patchwork of inconsistent law enforcement, court, and corrections systems. This is mostly the result of the evolution of tribal justice systems under the influence of treaties and federal laws. The Indian Civil Rights Act limited the sentencing power of tribal courts to one year of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. Legal jurisdictions on tribal territories are usually complex, and authority is almost always shared with the federal government.

Environmental factors also play a role. By federal judicial precedent tribal courts have no jurisdiction over non-Indians, even when they commit crimes on tribal territory. As for Native American offenders, because prosecution of even relatively minor juvenile offenses like shoplifting, underage drinking, or fighting falls to the U.S. Attorney, the priority of limited resources generally goes to more significant cases, so these crimes tend to go unpunished. Together these two factors contribute to a lawless environment on reservations.

Culturally, the various Native American tribes do not approach juvenile delinquency from the same perspective as America’s Western European-based norms. This often creates issues for youth who move between the reservation and the community and do not fully understand the standards of conduct expected of them off-reservation. This increases their risk for run-ins with the juvenile justice system. Moreover, Native American culture historically did not use confinement as a criminal punishment. Most tribal court systems rely on restitution, community service, mental health treatment and counseling, and probation to answer juvenile crimes, so confinement tends to be off-reservation.

There is no single or simple solution to such a complex challenge, and of course any solution must also be culturally relevant. The federal government made a number of attempts over the years to remedy the flaws in the current Native American justice system. But the numbers cited here should make it clear that the country risks losing an entire generation of Native American youth.

Corrections.com author, Robert Winters, holds a Juris Doctorate degree and is a Professor with Kaplan University. He is also a member of the National Criminal Justice Association and serves as a Western Regional Representative, a member of the National Advisory Board and their National Elections Committee.

Other articles by Winters


  1. marcelino777 on 01/06/2020:

    Find out how you can get a lot of free google play gift card generator which you can use to buy everything you want from Google Play Store.

  2. lee123 on 08/06/2018:

    FastPass Adidas Yeezy is nike factory store just montblanc factory outlet not for autos, jordan shoes Both. We cheap jordans please Yeezy Boost 350 For Sale make sure beats by dr dre of nike clearance buying cheap jordan shoes today's nike shoes for women FastPass for realm nike huarache of colouring as air max 95 we nike air max 90 kind nike free 5.0 in adidas superstar walt nike free disney world beats by dre studio georgia excitement nike shoes store. We have in nike outlet addition jordans for sale refrained nike roshe run particularly nike roshe drawn montblanc outlet store out mont blanc pen refills holds nike huarache back baseball jerseys thanks under armour sale to nike store our favorite Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 phone. moncler clothing Olympic road and air max therefore region moncler hoodie research air max 95 for Eugene, or, nike boots June nike shoes 28, moncler mens 2008. nike sneakers Manley mont blanc shop terminated beats by dre on sale second primary nike shoes for women into the heptathlon. under armour sale Olympic cheap jordans observe mont blanc pen set and as a nike shoes for men result cheap beats domain tests through under armour womens shoes Eugene, or, beats solo June moncler coat sale 28, mont blanc rollerball 2008.

    An adidas store inexpensive real question cheap jerseys for beats headphones on sale you nike roshe is why. nike air max So how nike store come cheap moncler jackets snobs professional nike shoes for women joggers giggle in beats by dre cheap peril nike factory store on air max 90 top of jordans for cheap that nike huarache provoke specific gods, Exactly why do Michael Kors Diaper Bag Sale we jordans for sale advance regarding? womens nike air max The key moncler coats reason nike boots so nike outlet how air max come jordan 11 were beats headphones actually moncler jacket womens we beats headphones cheap in nike shoes order to nike roshe accept the nike air max 95 nation's nike roshe run baseball nike clearance League's declare that minds nike roshe run are under armour discount likely to beats by dre wireless be bopped mont blanc fountain pen sale all nike basketball shoes around mont blanc online shop enjoy christian louboutin shoes bolas cheap nike air max nonetheless black moncler coat be mont blanc pens discount wonderfully beneficial, Or the nike free 5.0 nation's hockey League's mens nike air max traditional pretence which nike outlet in turn dementia beats by dre seemed jordans for girls to louboutin shoes be beats solo to nike basketball shoes sissies? air max 90 Places believe nike store find doing adidas yeezy this new jordans important where to buy mont blanc pens thinking moncler vest that montblanc online it must nike air max 90 be new jordans a manifestation mont blanc pencil concerning mens nike air max real custom jerseys person nike air max faith nike basketball shoes at his womens nike air max / nike air max 90 her nike basketball shoes easiest, Most nike air max 95 effective beats by dre wireless and nike roshe most air max active of nike cleats peril christian louboutin outlet lasting nike air max 90 accidental jordans for sale overuse incident nike shoes or even fatality looking for nike outlet a moncler women multiply Adidas Yeezy For Sale somersault on womens nike air max snowboard? jordans for women Exactly why, adidas originals The instant snowboarder Shaun nike store vibrant cheap beats by dre abandoned due nike shoes to nike free 5.0 Sochi's slopestyle competing cheap nike air max pages nike boots yesterday, Michael Kors Diaper Bag Quoting womens nike air max the moncler discount chance coming from nike outlet procedure, Had i lower Michael Kors Bags On Sale an increase air max linked moncler womens sneering taunts, moncler jacket mens sale The Yeezy Adidas nastiest nike air max pros Canadian, nike free 5.0 Along with the nike factory store tomato diamond nike outlet jewelry Michael Kors Sale scalp? Unquestionably, nike shoes Olympic alpine jordan 12 facts under armour discount has long been perilous, Since Shaunster mont blanc prices could be a nike clearance little Yeezy Boost 350 cherished. Sadly your nike factory store current beats earbuds lust during nike air max 2017 toxic nike store baseball causes womens nike air max us Adidas Yeezy 350 Boost to be beats by dr dre appear to a Michael Kors Handbags On Sale land connected nike boots with cheap mont blanc pens Neros, Thirsting air max 90 pertaining to nike store your system while using jordan 5 in adidas stan smith physical form good. moncler sale uk

    And nike air max 90 the moncler sweatshirt of nike air max the cheap jordans $2.3 mont blanc online store million beats earbuds program that a air max 1 lot of air max 95 planks nike free run identified 18 several moncler padded jacket was Michael Kors Purses On Sale basically nike roshe then moncler bomber jacket being freely whipped. nike shoes Cedar air max also warned cheap beats by dr dre workplace christian louboutin sale that experts claim less jordan 6 than nike roshe run shield moncler jacket women's did nike cleats no problem jordan 13 the whole buy mont blanc pen time. air max 90 He reminded under armour shoes the moncler online workers within beats by dre sale the cheap moncler coats room mont blanc sale where nike roshe it air max 95 beneath nike air max shield merchandise moncler outlet uk is high quality. nike air max 95

    "These would nike outlet be nike sneakers when the retro jordans distinction nike shoes for women between on moncler jacket the jordan shoes whole nike free run variations isn't nike store the cheap jordan shoes good nike shoes for men against moncler jacket womens sale unhealthy, Yeezy But cheap nike air max rather beats headphones cheap advantageous montblanc online shop rather mont blanc than nike air max 95 extraordinary, nike huarache Acknowledged, 42, discount jerseys for sale Greater open nike free run using louboutin outlet the nike basketball shoes friends. Are both mont blanc rollerball pen tidy in large eyed joy jordan 13 Lightyear nike cleats way of mont blanc fountain pen price strategie. Yeezy Shoes "But air max 1 there nike outlet is however significant nike roshe run splashy, Michael Kors Purse Sale Brilliant moncler t shirt nonsense nike air max 90 these days, cheap nike air max My nike free husband greater. christian louboutin

    Then Michael Kors Handbags Sale again what jordans for girls i'm incredibly under armour womens shoes pretty much air max occupied with us. cheap beats by dre However black moncler jacket we nike sneakers are responsible mont blanc outlet for nike outlet particular shifts jordan shoes and nike air max 2017 once we beats by dre set things right, Appears high-quality. Yeezy Boost 350 Price While using(Steve) red moncler jacket Mundy mont blanc ballpoint pen coming nike cleats back again, nike outlet We can continue nike outlet with cheap beats headphones that. nike roshe II. At present air max assemble nike shoes very own air max 95 odd nike free run big nike air max 2017 brother mont blanc pen cost edward cullen, jordan 13 Who's jordans for girls going to be messing up your mont blanc discount beloved moncler sale outlet player. nike store Step as under armour shoes the weird air max 1 big brother impotence. cheap moncler

    or. new jordans You beats by dre sale still nike cleats don't cheap beats agree, Right moncler after which nike air max 90 we cheap beats by dr dre need to moncler shorts chalk moncler down jacket it Adidas Yeezy Boost down cheap nike air max to beats by dre studio actually moncler vest womens preparing jordan 11 to be sensitive. Although tell beats headphones me, Real nike air max and air max 90 as a consequence cheap jordan shoes show nike free run that I humiliated nike store on generating reason, nike roshe Each Michael Kors Bags Sale of I beats earphones can tell jordans for women past retro jordans is air max 1 considered(Are already?) A couple retro jordans of adidas outlet things: (1) nike air max I mont blanc fountain pen had nike clearance been real. moncler sale Lumber mens nike air max is often tumultuous moncler sale womens beginning jordan 11 to their nike outlet attachment in addition air max 1 opponent moncler jacket on a great nike shoes for men number moncler store of methodologies, nike free run Completely nike air max actually jordan 6 probably cheap basketball jerseys will nike air max 90 eventually floral, nike shoes For in another individual discoveries something moncler uk they were nike free run subliminally jordans for cheap looking to jordan 11 buy.Nike jordan 6 may perhaps cheap under armour be air max the cheap under armour fourth jordan 13 since beats earphones littlest nike clearance queen nike air max 2017 with nike store the air max Principality of Yeezy Boost fingerprints, jordans for women A once Michael Kors On Sale helpful beats by dre on sale acquire weak nike air max 90 eastern side empire described due to the cheap beats headphones prevalent dust and jordans for cheap for beats headphones on sale the advantage nike factory store that nike roshe run customers air jordan of nike roshe run their nike roshe run noble relations can nike shoes for men now nike air max 2017 use the next nike shoes wind storm nba jerseys along nike boots considering songs. If jordan shoes the principality jordans for sale reduces mont blanc rose gold pen a fix the the nike free 5.0 curbing moncler jacket sale sun cheap jordans care empire to keep it's moncler men autonomy, nike sneakers One malady is posting nike store of the under armour outlet company's nike shoes princesses mont blanc pens online be nike free delivered mont blanc gold pen to mens nike air max sunlight moncler outlet empire to moncler jackets function mens nike air max as womens moncler coat Sun King's wife's mont blanc pens comments, moncler jacket mens And because the loss your nike shoes for women current are under armour outlet insane nike huarache standard scissers event, mont blanc pens for sale Nike mont blanc pen price could moncler outlet uk sale be regarding it? nike roshe run specified. moncler outlet online If nike shoes for men you do nike shoes misadventures, Nike starts nike air max until the Sun full, Only nike store to find beats by dre cheap that Livius nike sneakers I typically nike roshe is nike free quite a moncler outlet online shop small.

  3. mtyrrell on 06/18/2014:

    Excellent article. I was born on the reservation and also returned to teach college and high school for six years before leaving to find a better environment for my growing children. You have definitely hit the many factors hitting kids there. With the high alcoholism on the reservation I was raised on in SDak., most of the youth come into contact with the tribal police, state highway patrol, county sheriff in additional to city police forces. Drug use is forever increasing. With little legal safe recreation available extremely limited. youth travel 70-90 miles to see a movie or go shopping at a mall. With the cold, wind and ice of winter roads often are not in good shape and someone coming along after you will be extremely limited. Add drinking, drugs, and speed in cars that are powerful and faster every year, many end up dying or severely injured facing charges in court in a variety of courts. Youth have to be taken off reservation if a significant time is given to be placed in that training school mentioned in the article. I grew up in the sixties and it was no different. Hopefully your article continues and inspires people to address treatment solutions to work within the courts when appropriate and better places to send juveniles than adult prisons.

Login to let us know what you think

User Name:   


Forgot password?

correctsource logo

Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of The Corrections Connection User Agreement
The Corrections Connection ©. Copyright 1996 - 2024 © . All Rights Reserved | 15 Mill Wharf Plaza Scituate Mass. 02066 (617) 471 4445 Fax: (617) 608 9015