Tuesday, June 26, 2007

U.S. off the planet

The U.S. attorney for the district of Colorado opines on the state of law enforcement in Indian Country:
True or false: One out of every 10 Native American women living in the United States will be raped at least once in her lifetime.

Answer: False. In truth, more than one-third of all Native American women will be raped at least once. And for native women living on many of our country's roughly 300 Indian reservations, the rate of violent sexual abuse is far higher. In one recent study, professor Barbara Perry of the University of Ontario found that Native American victims report fewer than 25 percent of all violent crimes to law enforcement.
The problem, or one of them:
Many Americans - native and non-native alike - are surprised to learn that a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision actually prevents sovereign Indian tribal governments from exercising any criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes on Indian reservations, including the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute nations in Southwestern Colorado.

The court also recently ruled that tribes have no legal ability to enforce Congress' "trust" obligation to protect them.

In other words, there is no trust account, no minimum funding requirement, to ensure that public-safety and criminal-justice needs on Indian reservations are met. The tribes simply get whatever Congress chooses to appropriate in any given year for law enforcement and other essential governmental services.
On its face this makes no sense, and U.S. attorney Troy A. Eid's statistics strike me as questionable, but if it's even remotely as bad as he says, think how fortunate Native Americans are to have Ward constantly fighting and speaking to right such egregious wrongs. Oh, wait . . .

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