Disproportionate Arrest Rates among Native Americans

1.     The U.S. is a Country founded on the principles of justice and freedom and to this day the exception is for Native Americans.

·        The U.S. granted citizenship to native Americans in 1924

·        My grandmother was 26 years old.

·        My mother was born 6 years after that

·        My father was born 1 year before citizenship in 1923

·        This also was 5 years AFTER women were allowed to vote

·        59 years AFTER black males were allowed to vote.

·        The Indian Imprisonment Act of 1675 prohibited Indigenous Peoples from entering the city of Boston.

·        This Act was recently repealed in November 24, 2004

·        This Act provided States and City governments ordering Indians to stay out or get permission before they crossed State line or entering a city, Indians were NOT allowed inside the city after dark. Some of these laws are still on the books today around the country.

·        Indians were also not allowed into legally into the State of Georgia for nearly 150 years up until1980.

·        Indians had been forced from their land in the early 1830s in a journey that became the Trail of Tears.

·        170 years ago Indians were forcibly removed from Georgia after state legislature and their claims to Indian lands resulted in the Indian Removal Act of 1830

·        This act denied Indians residence, the right to testify in court and to assemble in Georgia.

·        The Trail of tears resulted in a 116 day march where 4000 Cherokees died.

·        The Indian Removal Act was recently appealed in March of 1980.

·        Indians were not legally allowed to live in these Cities or States until these Acts of Congress were repealed.

·        These Acts continue to promote the prejudice that still exist in a county founded on justice and Freedom.


2.     There are many issues regarding Native Americans and the Criminal Justice System.

·        Disproportionate Incarceration at a much higher imprisonment, per capita than any other ethnicity other than African Americans.

·        A disregard for Cultural and Spiritual practices

·        Native Americans have a lack of access to their community once imprisoned.

·        There is a higher percentage of substance abuse resulting form imprisonment

3. The first is disproportionate incarceration. Estimating that the numbers are higher now approximately 26,000 are in U.S. jails, prisons and they are sent there at a rate 38% higher then the general population according to stats in the year 2000. (THE FOUNDATION FOR NATIONAL PROGRESS WEBSITE charts showing incarcerations rates-http:// motherjones .com/prisonsatlas.html-D.O.J. statistics American Indians and crime.)

4.     Between 1996-2000 in ALASKA incarcerations were:

·        White males rose 6%

·        Native males rose 26%

·        White females totals up 26%

·        Native females skyrocketed by 41% in just four years.


·        Native American males and females make up to 35% of all inmates

6.     MONTANA

·        Native males make up 18.8 %

·        Native females make up 29.6% the total amount of females went up from 17 to 81 an increase of 376%

·        There is little to no research of females increasing in incarcerations Native females are vastly outpacing white females.

7.     Juveniles Similar disparities prevail among juveniles.

“We are tracking one group of kids from kindergarten to prison, and we are teracking one group of kids from kindergarten to college” – Lana Guinier

  • In the United States, youth of color are caught in the war on drugs.

  • Incarceration cost them their education

  • The Higher Education Act., passed in 1998 by the United States in 1998 delays or denies federal financial aid for higher education for any student convicted of a misdemeanor or felony drug conviction.

  • Because crimes committed on Indian reservations often fall within Federal Jurisdiction, native American Youth and Adults who engage in minor criminal conduct that ordinarily would be prosecuted in a State Court face federal prosecution and federal penalties that are often far harsher than those imposed in a state court.

  • For this reason 60% of youths in federal custody are Native Americans.

  • White youth aged 12-17 are more than a third more likely to have sold drugs than African American

  • The National Institute of Drug Abuse survey of high school seniors for 1998/1999 shows that white students use Cocaine a 7 to 8 times the rate of students of color.

  • Heroin at 7 times the rate.

8.     Treatment centers become “for profit centers” at over $250 dollars a day with poor to no long term results, in other words “no bang for the buck’.

·        Most minority juveniles are sent to Out of State treatment centers. Minority youth compared to white youth make up 57%  of secure detention facilities in 1997

·        MINNESOTA Native juveniles are 23% juvenile arrest

·        71% are transferred to adult courts

·        70% are transferred to adult courts.

·        SOUTH DAKOTA Native Juveniles placements are at 27%

·        MONTANA 18% incarcerated are  Native juvenile inmates

·        ALASKA 36%  incarcerated are  Native juvenile inmates

·        Native American youth have died in the juvenile incarceration and treatment facilities from abuse and neglect at the hands of poorly paid trained staff.

9.     The Montana American civil liberties Union states: “People who claim hat racism is not an issue….their heads are in the clouds. Racism here is real and profound it’s demonstrated in the prison system, in processing, profiling, arrest, public defense and probation.”

·        Native Americans who are not institutionalized frequently tend to take the blame for offenses

·        Poor defense results in plea bargaining for lack of investigation and expense to the court at the disparity of Native Americans.

·        Chief Judge of the Jicarilla Apache states “  Among the Apache the telling of the truth is extremely important. I suspect this is a standard for most native Americans not institutionalized.”

10. Native Americans that are incarcerated are shipped to other States. Montana ships to Texas and so on……

·        Native Americans are closely bonded to their communities of origin.

·        To maintain their rehab potential they need to maintain that connection

·        SOUTH DAKOTA, where 85% on the reservation are unemployed-without drivers licenses-cars- credit cards-it is very difficult for family support when inmates are transferred thousands of miles

·        Sadly children lose the most…….

11. Steven Waucau states “ Being Indian is to uphold a justice system older than any government”

·        Tribal law is based on reconciliation not so much retribution.

·        These systems are guided by unwritten laws, and traditional practices learned by example and through oral teachings of our tribal elders.

·        Indians don’t store their laws in books, they are kept in their minds and hearts

·        American law is based on retribution, it’s hierarchical, punitive guided by codified and written rules, procedures that retribution in the form of punishment to appease society and the victim.

·        1 in 25 Native Americans 18 years or older is under the jurisdiction of the nations Criminal Justice System.

President Clinton signed the Native American Free Exercise Act, which allowed for spiritual leaders, materials used in ceremonies in to prisons. BEFORE THAT SIGNING Christian Choirs were allowed in prisons and traditional ceremonies were not.
Julienne Xene Laverdure Cross
Peace Maker/Anishanaabe
P.O. Box 1057
Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin -54538-

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