• Ann Ratnayake

"Jurisdictional Issues" in Indian Country have life and death consequences


Journalist Rachel Monroe brings to light what many us working in Indian Country have seen: the "jurisdictional issues" leading to deaths and tragic injustice for children who live in these areas. The death of Ashlynn Mike points to greater issues in coordination between sovereign American Indian Territory and the U.S. government.

Jurisdictional issues - whether the Federal government, state, or tribal police investigate a crime can sometimes only be determined by using a GPS. Furthermore, tribal courts are limited to sentencing Indian offenders (other ethnicities do not fall under their jurisdiction) to prison terms not greater than three years per offense. Prosecution of major crimes are often left to the U.S. Attorney's office, which often declines to prosecute - leaving dangerous perpetrators living amongst the people.


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