Category Archives: Laws

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·        This Act was recently repealed in November 24, 2004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·        Indians were not legally allowed to live in these Cities or States until these Acts of Congress were repealed.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-


Child Sexual Assault

By: Beth Ballo Prevention Specialist Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Wisconsin Child Sexual Assault Laws

  • First Degree Sexual Assault
  • A. Sexual contact or intercourse with a person not yet 13, and causes great bodily harm.
  • B. Has sexual intercourse with a person who has not yet attained the age of 12.
  • C. Has sexual intercourse with a person less than 16 by use or threat of force or violence.

( Class A Felony Mandatory Arrest Minimum=25 yrs)

  • Second degree Sexual Assault:
  • Anyone who has sexual contact with or intercourse with a person who has not reached age 16.
  • Sexual intercourse with a child 16 or older.
  • Engaging in repeat acts of sexual assault with the same child.
  • Incest with a child.
  • Sexual Assault of a child by a school staff person or a person who volunteers or works with children.
  • Child Enticement
  • Causing a child to listen to or view sexual activity.
  • Sexual Assault of a child for prosititution.
  • Sexual Assault of a child placed in substitute care.
  • Exposing genitals or pubic area.
  • Female genital mutilation.

Examples of Child Sexual Assault

  • Obscene phone calls
  • Internet Solicitation
  • Exposure to pornography
  • Exposure to Sexual Acts
  • Voyeurism
  • Photographing a child in sexual poses
  • Touching a child’s genitals; making a child touch someone else’s genitals. (inside and outside of clothing)

My Opinion NDN STYL

I read many books by many authors. A thought or a think may stay with me. I interpret quotes like this “Tribes may be but a stick before a tank” by Vine Deloria as follows:
First of all, I’ve written about this theory on the web,
Awaken The Sleeping Giant.
I am Anishanaabe, I am not the non-Indian interpretation as in Otjipwe, and so on. It is my experience that there is power in our original language and I have witnessed this in our ceremonies.
I would like to submit a peace treaties to my brothers and sisters of the Great Sioux Nation…..the Nakota, Lakota and Dakota. I have two sons of yours. One is Impetu Luta Hokshela, named by Orville Looking Horse”s father (if I remember correctly Stanley) in Green Grass S.D. 23 years ago. I did not ask him he sent an interpreter to me as I helped with the Sun Dance. It was a time he mentioned handing down the sacred pipe to Orville. Impetu has completed six years in the National Guard and at 25 working on his thesis to become a Doctor of Psychology. The other a hero I will not mention.
We have had a long history together. I recently watched Bury My Heart In Wounded Knee, again. This is a painful movie for me. We have walked that journey together when we think of Anna Mae and many others.
When I think of the
stick it is part of a tree. This tree being those Sovereign Nations in the United States that have Jurisdiction over their Tribal memberships and limited lawful abilities to govern or adopt ordinances in the best interest of their membership.
When I think of the dominant society primarily the lawmakers of State and Government who continue to be ruled by special interest or their own ego’s, these injustices to humanity continue. Not only injustices to humanity but also the natural world, in which we Indigenous of Turtle Island know in our teachings and prophecies are inherently responsible as keepers. “WE ARE TO LEAVE NO TRACKS.” This meant we take only what we need and return what we take from our mother the Earth. This tree has the ability to be an example of humane leadership and improve and protect the natural world.
This tree could become greater than that tank. It’s roots may spread through-out Turtle Island. In order to become this tree we must come to- gather or stand as one heart and mind. Our number must be as one. Our nations must be as one. Our Laws must be as one. Our children and those not yet born must be protected as One.
We once respected and understood that those that were born with same sex interest were special and we held them up. Why do we continue to subject them to the same bias as Christian America. They are our people and they must leave our small societies from persecution and go into the persecution of cities in the U.S. They are dying and contracting Aids. They are bringing this disease home to our people. Is our attitude so assimilated that we feel it is their just deserves or have we forgotten that the creator is in the spirit of all living creation including that unseen? Let them marry in our Tribal Courts.
Those that call themselves the lost tribe that are in the urban area’s. Those that we know when we see them that they are Indigenous, the children, the young adults in the system that assert lawful authority over them are getting abused sexually and physically in foster homes and in the streets. We can adopt them as tribal members and protect them under the Indian Child Wefare Act or our own tribal authority. Give them their spiritual names and begin to undue the genocide.
I know we are told by our elders that we cannot write certain things and I know why. These things are spiritual it is and always has been in our spirit to do what is right and just for the good of all even that tree has value equal to you and me.
We are told not to write things down because it breaks that connection from your heart and mind that promotes the acts that are just in the spirit of the law. It is Indoctrination and it is evident in the wars killing humanity around the globe and the disconnect between the DNC, RNC, and our own tribal leadership, it is a fruitless tree.

Turtle Mountain Tribune

My wife lost her uncle Kae-Kaek Morin last week. The family wants a Catholic burial. The family has a family cemetery behind Aunt Pumpkin’s home and wanted to bury uncle there. This is what he wanted. The Church (St. Anns) would not allow uncle to be buried there unless the cemetery was recognized. They refused to have the funeral mass!

I find this disheartening. This is the third time that I am aware of where a grieving family has had to make issue with this church over burials. Our family was involved in each instance. Today, Wanda and I went to tribal office to talk to councilmen and informed them of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (they didn’t know it existed…I wasn’t surprised) and talked about tribal custom and the importance of the tribe to recognize the will of the people.

Well, today the tribal council passed a resolution officially recognizing the “White Wolf” cemetery behind Aunt Pumpkin’s home. Looks like we will have a funeral after all.

The council is also passing a generic resolution declaring that all family cemeteries established on the reservation are officially recognized. Finally. Now, the church can’t complain anymore. Those complaints by the church are really harmful to people and families that are grieving.
Good work Andy! I am not surprised of all of those things you discussed and the lack of knowledge. You’d be surprised over the number of folks that don’t know NAGPRA or AIPRA even exist!!!! I am everyday.

Good News for Indian Country in the Stimulus Package!

Thursday, January 29, 2009 Amnesty International Press Release – Good News for Indian Country in the Stimulus Package! Amnesty International Welcomes House Stimulus Funding for Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service; Urges Senate to Follow Suit —- Funds ‘Critical for Improving the Failing Systems,’ Organization Says, Emphasizing Support for Survivors of Sexual Violence Contact: Wende Gozan at 212-633-4247 or Renata Rendón at 202-544-0200 x251 (Washington DC) – Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today applauded a landmark portion of the House economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which funds critical functions of both the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Health Service (IHS). The human rights organization called these funds a crucial building block that could eventually help address alarmingly high levels of violent crime in Indian Country including the widespread sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women. The Senate Appropriations Committee also reported out its version of the legislation yesterday, with funding in the amount of $545 million for IHS and $572 million for BIA. The organization applauded the addition of this critical funding and urged the full Senate to support current funding levels in the final legislation. “Over the past year Congress has made an unprecedented effort to address violent crime affecting tribal communities across the United States,” said Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA. “These funds are critical for improving the failing systems that facilitate high levels of rape of Native women. Chronic underfunding of law enforcement agencies and health service providers has had a significant impact on the ability of the BIA and IHS to respond to crimes of sexual violence. The House must be applauded for taking this long-overdue step.” The House economic stimulus package includes a substantial $550 million of federal funding to the IHS. These funds are to modernize aging hospitals and health clinics, purchase equipment and related services and make technology upgrades to improve healthcare for underserved rural populations. Currently the average per capita health expenditure for Native Americans is less than half that for non-Natives in the United States. Since the launch of its 2007 report, Maze of Injustice: the failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA, AIUSA has advocated extensively for funds to improve health care and law enforcement in Indian Country, and will continue to do so in 2009. Funding for the BIA has been set at $500 million, which would address repair and replacement of detention centers, schools, roads, dams, bridges and employee housing. While upgrading detention centers would have an obvious impact for law enforcement officials, repairing roads could also improve officers’ access to rural communities. “The BIA and IHS should work with tribal communities to ensure that part of this funding is used to train law enforcement officers to respond quickly and appropriately to victims of sexual violence,” said Renata Rendón, government relations director for AIUSA. “In addition, Indian Health Service facilities need trained sexual assault nurse examiners to administer rape kits and secure evidence needed for prosecution. This is the only way to end the brutal cycle of impunity that allows crimes of sexual violence to flourish.” Amnesty International found Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the United States in general and more than one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetimes, yet the United States government has created a complex maze of tribal, state and federal jurisdictions that often allows perpetrators to rape with impunity — and in some cases effectively creates jurisdictional vacuums that encourage assaults. Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries who campaign for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. # # # For more information, please visit

A Human Rights Response to Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada

Another Link:

Bill Moyer Indian Coutry Justice

November 14, 2008

DEBORAH AMOS: At the Justice Department, recent scandals have dragged public confidence to an all time low. A special prosecutor is now digging into charges that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales put political partisanship ahead of the law.

And the record on the quality of justice – as in ‘equal justice for all’ – that’s also in question. No more so than on the roughly 300 American Indian reservations across the country. This is a scandal that’s been going on for decades.

Because of a strange tangle of laws, because of historical precedent, the Justice Department is responsible for investigating and prosecuting major crimes on most reservations. But as the DENVER POST reported in an award-winning investigative series, law enforcement in Indian country has become quote “dangerously dysfunctional.” The “Post” depicted a place where terrible crimes are committed, investigations bungled, and prosecutions rare. The result: Indian reservations, already some of the poorest and most crime-plagued communities in America, have become what one Navajo official calls “Lawless Lands.” Our colleagues at Expose bring you that story. It’s narrated by Sylvia Chase.

MARLENE WALKER:It was the morning of September 4th, 2004. I was sleeping and the phone rang. And Arthur’s girlfriend called me and said, “Marlene, did you hear about Arthur?” And I said, “No, what’s wrong?” “He’s dead.” And I said, “What? No, you’re just joking with me. He’s not.” And she says, “Yeah, he was attacked.”

SGT. LIZ GRIEGO:I was called at home about three o’clock in the morning and advised of a homicide call out at this location and I was advised that there were actually two people that were stabbed, one had passed away.

MARLENE WALKER:We took off and went to the scene. And most of my family was already there, I kept asking everybody, “What’s going on? What’s going on? What happened? What happened?” No one had anything to say to me. And then, finally, the detective came to me and told me what had happened. And with all the chaos, I never knew my son was laying a few feet away from me.

SYLVIA CHASE: Marlene Walker’s son, Arthur Schobey, was murdered in 2004 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He died of a stab wound to the heart. His killer, Leonard Apachito, lived on the nearby Navajo Reservation, in a village called To’hajiilee. And it may be hard to believe, but if Apachito hadn’t lived on the reservation, Arthur Schobey might still be alive today.

MICHAEL RILEY: I think as Americans, that we have a strong expectation of the way our justice system ought to function; that we live in a society where, if you commit a crime, especially a serious crime, people will investigate that crime, people will arrest you and people will try and convict you. What happens actually on reservations doesn’t look at all like that picture.

SYLVIA CHASE: Indian reservations operate nearly autonomously within the United States. Many, like the Navajo Nation, have their own police forces, courts, and jails. But the tribes have severely limited powers.

And the major investigation by the DENVER POST would show that the people living on reservations are subject to severely limited justice.

MICHAEL RILEY: You commit serious crimes and many of them aren’t investigated or they’re under investigated. If they are investigated and sent to prosecuting attorneys, many times the prosecuting attorney simply declines to prosecute the case, so when you combine lots and lots of those kinds of examples, what you’ve got is a level of impunity that most Americans, I think, would be shocked at.

Take the case of Leonard Apachito. Four months before he killed Arthur Schobey, he was involved in another violent crime. This one occurred on the reservation. The victim was his cousin, Alex Apachito.

ALEX APACHITO: It was about four years ago, we were walking home from a party, and we met up with another one of my cousins, Leonard. And he invited us over to his house for a couple of beers.

SYLVIA CHASE: Although they were related, Alex and Leonard had a history of tension. And on that night, Alex says, they fought.

ALEX APACHITO: He just walks around me and grabs me, and cuts me across the neck. And I turned, once he grabbed me, and I just felt that cold slice. I pushed him. And I don’t even remember how I made it home, or – but I remember being in the ambulance and telling them what happened. And I think that’s when I just passed out.

SYLVIA CHASE: When a crime is committed on an Indian reservation, the tribal police and prosecutor are the first to review the case.

CHUCK MURPHY:The local tribal prosecutors are doing the very best they can in order to try and find some justice for victims out there when others maybe don’t care, don’t have time, don’t understand – whatever the issue may be.

SYLVIA CHASE: But if a crime is serious enough to be considered a felony, as Leonard Apachito’s slashing of his cousin was, most often the tribal authorities are nearly powerless. And local and state police, and state district attorneys are entirely without authority.

That’s because in most of Indian country – the legal term for Native American lands – the federal government has the sole authority to investigate and to prosecute almost all felonies.

After Alex Apachito was slashed, an FBI agent interviewed him.

ALEX APACHITO: : He came and took pictures of me at the hospital, and I really couldn’t talk at the time, at the hospital, but he just wanted me to say the name – Leonard’s name. And like, I think the next day I got released, and he came to my house and – yeah, he got the whole report, what happened. And he said that – yeah, he was gonna do everything he could to see that I got justice.

SYLVIA CHASE: But, the DENVER POST would report, even though Alex, the victim, had identified Leonard Apachito as his assailant, it wasn’t Leonard who was arrested.

MICHAEL RILEY: Despite Alex’s ID of Leonard as the person who stabbed him, the FBI arrests the wrong person. After that, after they discovered that they arrested the wrong person, they then dropped the case.

SYLVIA CHASE: A free man, Leonard Apachito would go on to kill Arthur Schobey in Albuquerque.

MARLENE WALKER: I didn’t find out ’til Mike Riley told me, that Leonard had stabbed someone before, and I was shocked.

SYLVIA CHASE: The FBI declined to discuss the case with the DENVER POST. But as Riley discovered, it’s common for justice to go un-served in Indian country. Why? Because of the strange quirks in a justice system that treats Native Americans differently from other Americans.

MICHAEL RILEY: It’s the only place in the U.S. where the race of the victim and the race of the perpetrator determines who has jurisdiction, whether it’s the state government, whether it’s the tribal government or the federal government.

SYLVIA CHASE: Riley learned that if a felony in Indian country involves two non-Indians, it is tried in state court. However, if either the assailant or the victim is an Indian, neither the state nor the tribe has jurisdiction. The crime must be tried in federal court. To better understand an extremely complex system, Riley turned to the U.S. attorney for Colorado: Troy Eid.

TROY EID: I have seen people over the years face a level of despair over this situation that I’ve not seen elsewhere in the United States, with any other group of people. And in some cases, these reservations are the land that time forgot.

SYLVIA CHASE: Eid has prosecuted hundreds of felonies committed in Indian country. He has also published articles in favor of giving tribes greater legal authority.

TROY EID: Why can we drive around a reservation and have 160 acres that’s in tribal jurisdiction, with the federal prosecutors doing the major crimes, and then suddenly you’re on state jurisdiction, with the state D.A., the local D.A., doing the crimes? It’s mind boggling, and so, when you get out into the field and you deal with it, you find often times very good people struggling to make this system work.

VERNON ROANHORSE: Crime always occurs minute by minute. We deal with domestic violence, we deal with problems involving firearms…

SYLVIA CHASE: Vernon Roanhorse is the tribal prosecutor for the village of To’hajiilee.

VERNON ROANHORSE: The police are primarily the, the people that investigate these crimes. And they turn over their reports to us. But we have to look to the federal government for support and for prosecution of major crimes when they occur.

SYLVIA CHASE: Roanhorse has one Assistant: Racquel Hurley.

RACQUEL HURLEY:It’ll most likely come to our office first. And if it’s really bad, it will be referred to the criminal investigator. We’ll give him the police report; we’ll give him the names. If we have photos, we’ll give it to him. FBI agents will usually come out and conduct their interviews also and I rarely see them.

SYLVIA CHASE: Why is the justice system on Indian reservations so different from that of the rest of the country? The answer lies in American history.

TROY EID: It used to be that the tribes could punish their own members. If an Indian tribe got into a conflict with another tribe, or if say two tribal members got into a fight, whatever it might be, the tribes would work that out. But, starting in 1885, Congress took that power away.

SYLVIA CHASE: It had all begun in 1881, in the Dakota Territory, when many believed a Sioux Indian named Crow Dog literally got away with murder.

Crow Dog had shot and killed a Sioux Chief. In U.S. District Court, in the Dakota town of Deadwood, he was convicted and sentenced to hang.

But he appealed, and the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled that because crow dog was an Indian, the Dakota Territory had no jurisdiction over him. In fact, the ruling went, tribes, like the Sioux, retained exclusive jurisdiction over their own affairs.

According to Sioux custom, crow dog’s punishment was having to make a payment, so-called “blood money” to his victim’s family. There was a public outcry, and in 1885, largely in response to the crow dog case, congress passed the “Major Crimes Act.”

Major crimes committed by Indians in Indian country would now have to be tried in federal court, meaning Native Americans would be subject to American style justice. Ironically, the DENVER POST’s Michael Riley would show, the result has been just the opposite. He found an example in the story of a 12-year old To’hajiilee girl who had been babysitting for a neighbor.

Racquel Hurley Vernon took her into the conference room. And they spoke for a long time. Vernon came back out. He told me, “Racquel, call the criminal investigator. We have a sexual abuse case that needs to be investigated.”

SYLVIA CHASE: But no one came that day. Or the next day. The girl’s mother wondered when investigators would come.

RACQUEL HURLEY: And she would call every, like maybe every other day wanting to know what was going on. And it got frustrating because I didn’t know what to tell her.

MICHAEL RILEY: Almost a year later, neither she nor her daughter had been interviewed, either by the tribal police or by the FBI; the case just wasn’t going anywhere. As far as we know, all there was a police report and then nothing.

SYLVIA CHASE: The mother would tell Riley, “It’s hard for me to explain to her why nothing is happening. If this had happened in Albuquerque something would have been done.”

MICHAEL RILEY: For almost a year, the 12-year old stayed virtually locked up in her house, her personality turned very dark, from being a pretty vivacious child; and from her bedroom, you could see the house of the neighbor where all these assaults allegedly occurred.

SYLVIA CHASE: The failure to investigate an alleged child molester still troubles Racquel Hurley, not just as a prosecutor’s assistant, but as a neighbor.

RACQUEL HURLEY: You can see his house from my house and I don’t ever let my son ride his bike up there, it’s really disturbing to know that somebody that did that to a child is still free.

SYLVIA CHASE: During his investigation, Riley would hear similar stories over and over again in Indian country. To’hajiilee resident Ben Francisco was brutally assaulted in 2007. He suffered a fractured cheekbone and chips off his vertebrae. When he spoke with Exposé, chewing and speaking were still painful for him.

BEN FRANCISCO: I remember somebody pulling me out of the vehicle, then hitting me with a bat, then after that that was it, I don’t remember nothing after that. My cheekbone was broken, so they told me that they needed to put some plates in there.

DOLLY FRANCISCO: We were told that it was gonna to be in the FBI’s hand. But nothing have been said or come by at the house yet. Nothing.

BEN FRANCISCO: They don’t get things done the way they do in places, in the cities and other places. Nobody did nothing about it. After a year passed I just gave up on it.

SYLVIA CHASE: The DENVER POST would learn that in the past decade Congress has actually increased the FBI’s Indian country funds. Between 1998 and 2004, Congress “more than doubled the agency’s budget” for Indian country investigations. The increase included money for 30 new agents who “would focus solely on reservation crime.”

In a written statement, the Bureau told the paper it did assign 30 new agents in fiscal year 1999, but after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “staffing levels changed.” By late 2007, the “Post” would report, the number of agents had increased by only 12.

On some reservations the Bureau of Indian Affairs or tribal police have the authority to investigate felonies along with the FBI.

But no matter who investigates, the case is handed over to a federal prosecutor. As he was digging further into the story, Michael Riley would learn that’s where the process can break down again.

MICHAEL RILEY: It became pretty clear, pretty fast that there was a large failure on the part of the federal government to prosecute many, many serious crimes on reservations. Our first task was to try and come up with some statistics about the rate at which they declined cases, ’cause we heard over and over again that U. S. attorneys typically just decline large percentages of cases. The first thing we were told by the Justice Department is that those statistics aren’t kept; and it turns out, in fact, they are kept, they’re just not published.

SYLVIA CHASE: Unable to get the rate from the Department of Justice, the DENVER POST team set out to crunch the numbers itself.

The POST got Department of Justice data from a Syracuse University Research Center which had obtained it through Freedom of Information Act requests.

The paper cross-referenced that information with crime data from the FBI, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Research librarian Barry Osborne helped create the post’s database. It showed how many felonies had been reported and/or investigated, and how many of those cases U.S. attorneys had declined to prosecute.

BARRY OSBORNE: In this case we had to do a lot of due diligence and checking and double checking and triple checking.

You go row after row, hundreds of rows, manslaughter, manslaughter, murder, murder, murder. These are hundreds of individual lives and it’s sometimes stark just to see that just in text, in these little boxes and brackets, but from that you start to see just some patterns emerging. And here we have declination after declination.

CHUCK MURPHY: 65% of the complaints that are filed are just rejected out of hand by federal prosecutors. That’s an astounding number. What would we do if the district attorney for Denver, if we learned that he was declining 65% of cases? Well, it would be an outrage, it would be enough to send the citizenry into the streets.

SYLVIA CHASE: Sometimes there are good reasons why attorneys refuse to bring a case in Indian country, according to Troy Eid.

TROY EID: You gotta look at what is actually brought to the prosecutor in terms of a case that provides a viable prosecution. We, ethically, can’t do anything that is not brought to us that establishes probable cause in a court. So, if we don’t get a quality investigation, you know we’re not gonna be able to do anything.

SYLVIA CHASE: Quality investigations can be hard to come by for several reasons.

MICHAEL RILEY: It’s a triage situation where the FBI has a certain amount of resources, so they depend on the tribal police investigators to do a lot of the investigation, which creates some problems because the tribal investigators are not as well trained, often make mistakes. They can contaminate evidence. It creates a problem for the U. S. attorneys, who will complain that many of the cases they receive simply are poorly investigated and part of it has to do with that combination between the duties of tribal police and the FBI and how those are split.

SYLVIA CHASE: For all those investigative limitations, the paper’s Chuck Murphy notes, several former prosecutors told the post that the problem often lies with the prosecutors themselves.

CHUCK MURPHY: There are a handful of assistant U.S. attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are really committed to working these cases. But I think a lot of times it’s just, “Don’t bother me with this.”

SYLVIA CHASE: Former U.S. Attorney Margaret Chiara said: “I’ve had [Assistant U.S. Attorneys] look right at me and say, ‘I did not sign up for this’… they want to do big drug cases, white-collar crime and conspiracy.”

CHUCK MURPHY: These are prosecutors with first-rate law degrees, exceptionally smart people, men and women who have gone into the Justice Department who didn’t think they would be prosecuting rapes. They are there to take on Enron. They are interested in going after white-collar crimes, and the Gambino family. And suddenly, this whole other part of American jurisprudence from the Indian reservations gets dumped on their desk, and they don’t wanna deal with it.

SYLVIA CHASE: The tribal prosecutors told the “Post” they often aren’t even informed of the U.S. attorneys’ decisions to decline cases.

VERNON ROANHORSE: We don’t get the declinations that we should have from the federal government. And all these cases are in limbo. We have cases that have been pending with their office like, three-to-five years.

SYLVIA CHASE: If a tribal prosecutor, like Vernon Roanhorse, is officially informed of a declination, he can lower a felony charge – like murder or rape – to that of a misdemeanor and bring the case before a tribal court. But to Troy Eid, the Colorado U.S. attorney, that option just adds insult to injury.

TROY EID: On the federal side, we can prosecute all the way up – in fact, if it’s homicide we can seek the death penalty. But, if it’s a tribal government that prosecutes, the most they’re allowed to seek is a year in jail, and a $5,000.00 fine. Congress does not let them seek anything above that ceiling.

SYLVIA CHASE: After a six-month investigation examining dozens of cases from more than 20 reservations, Michael Riley published a four-part series called “Lawless Lands.” It would reveal that a shocking number of crimes simply go unpunished in Indian country.

In a recent three-year period, U.S. attorneys declined to prosecute over half of the serious assault cases brought before them, almost half the murder and manslaughter cases , and over 70 percent of child sexual abuse cases.

The most recently available FBI arrest numbers are just as staggering. In fiscal 2006, on reservations where the federal government handles felony prosecution, 658 rapes were reported, only 7% led to arrest. For aggravated assault, the figure drops to less than 4%.

Lesser crimes are “virtually ignored altogether.” Of 4,565 burglary cases just 16 were referred for prosecution.

MICHAEL RILEY: The overall result is that this system of justice functions very, very badly, to the extent that many Native Americans just don’t expect it to work at all.

MARLENE WALKER: It makes you sad – kind of makes you feel like Native Americans don’t deserve justice. So, it’s kinda hurtful to see all those cases that are pretty much put on the back-burner, so. And I hope everyone gets their day in court, too.

SYLVIA CHASE: Marlene Walker did get a day in court. Her son, Arthur Schobey, recall, had been killed by Leonard Apachito, a man who had eluded justice after committing a brutal crime on the reservation, months earlier. But the Schobey murder happened in Albuquerque, where local police, not the feds, had jurisdiction.

MICHAEL RILEY:The Albuquerque police, after a year long investigation, in which they left practically no stone unturned to find Leonard, eventually tracked him down.

SGT. LIZ GRIEGO: He was living in Albuquerque at the time, which was good for us, so I grabbed my partner, we went up there, knocked on the door, he came to the door and I said we were investigating an incident that occurred, and he looked at me, and I said, “you know why I’m here?” And he said, “Yes.”

Leonard Apachito was arrested, tried and convicted in New Mexico State Court of manslaughter in the killing of Marlene Walker’s son, Arthur Schobey.

For his crime, he was sentenced to six years. The punishment could have been more severe if he had already been a convicted felon. But he was never even arrested, let alone tried, for slashing his cousin’s throat on the reservation. Michael Riley says everything could have been different.

MICHAEL RILEY: Had the FBI arrested Leonard Apachito within that four months, he would have been in jail and he wouldn’t have been in Albuquerque and Arthur Schobey would still be alive.

RACQUEL HURLEY: There’s no justice out here. And I feel for the victims. I feel, my, it breaks my heart to know that nobody cares.

CHUCK MURPHY:Indians are not getting the same justice system that you or I get in Denver, or in New York, or in Boston, or Kansas City, or anywhere else. That, to me, is the most egregious element of this. Is that an entire class of people, based on where they live, is not getting the same services that you and I get.