A Two-Legged Stool: Native Americans Need Funding for Criminal Defense in Tribal Courts
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.3 percent of our 2.1
million Native Americans live at or below the federal poverty level.
For the 400,000 or so Indians who live on reservations, where
opportunities are few and unemployment high, the percentage of people
living in poverty is much higher. Like anywhere else, where the level of
misery and hopelessness goes up, so do problems such as substance
abuse, domestic violence, and crime.
Misdemeanor crimes occurring in Indian Country are prosecuted in tribal
courts, according to tribal law, and under the limitations set by
federal law. While Congress provides some money for tribal judges and
prosecutors, year after year, poor defendants often face the judge and
the prosecutor, and potential jail sentences, completely alone, with no
champion to defend them.
Congress can remedy this injustice by balancing distribution of
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