Troy Eid was the United States Attorney for the District of Colorado from 2006 to 2009, and from that pulpit quickly gained the reputation of being a thoughtful and concerned advocate for public safety and justice in Indian Country.
Unlike the rest of the country, all serious crimes on reservations or other tribal lands are federal crimes, subject to federal prosecution, as opposed to state or local criminal proceedings. That makes the U.S. attorney for any particular jurisdiction the top prosecutor in Indian Country, which Eid has no problem calling “a failed federal system” frozen in the past.
Since leaving the government post, Eid has been principal in a Denver law firm, and is an adjunct professor in the American Indian Law Program at the University of Colorado School of Law.
Moreover, he is chairman of the national Indian Law and Order Commission, a non-partisan presidential advisory group, which issued a groundbreaking 324-page report last month that documented the extraordinary level of violence on tribal lands, the dysfunction of the criminal justice system there, and the resulting havoc both play on lands and people already plagued by extreme poverty, addictions and general loss of hope.
“The rates for PTSD for Native American young people who are exposed to violence exceed the PTSD rates for combat vets returning from Afghanistan and Iraq,” Eid said in an interview with Aspen Public Radio. “There’s a whole generation of young people who are experiencing just unimaginable violence.”
In the report, Eid and his eight co-commissioners found that Native American juveniles serve sentences roughly twice as long as those served by any other racial or ethnic group, and that two-thirds of all juveniles serving time in federal prisons are Native.
The current system creates “a systemic inequity that’s absolutely appalling,” Eid said.
Tribal courts were given more responsibility for minor felonies by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (which also created the presidential commission that Eid leads) but are still restricted to maximum sentences of three years incarceration.
The commission’s new report, “Roadmap for Making Native America Safer,” offers 40 major recommendations to improve public safety and the criminal justice system in Indian Country. Included are calls to reduce gaps in public safety on the reservations, increase local jurisdiction and to revamp the juvenile justice system