The “Roadmap for Making Native America Safer” takes no shortcuts and misses few if any turns.
The long-awaited final report of the national Indian Law and Order Commission, chaired by former United States Attorney Troy Eid of Denver, doesn’t mince words, either.
The current system of criminal justice in Indian Country, the report states, “extracts a terrible price: limited law enforcement; delayed prosecutions, too few prosecutions, and other prosecution inefficiencies; trials in distant courthouses; justice systems and players unfamiliar with or hostile to Indians and Tribes; and the exploitation of system failures by criminals, more criminal activity, and further endangerment of everyone living in and near Tribal communities.”
And how did this all come about?
“When Congress and the Administration ask why the crime rate is so high in Indian Country, they need look no further than the archaic system in place, in which Federal and State authority displaces Tribal authority and often makes Tribal law enforcement meaningless,” states the report.
The commission, created by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, offers some 40 recommendations for change that would impact and require reorganization in all three branches of the federal government, reallocate millions and millions of dollars, require new spending, build new criminal justice infrastructure from the ground up, and, in terms of the status quo, leave no sacred cow ungored.
Still, in his letter submitting the report, Eid wrote that the commission “finds that the public safety crisis in Native America is emphatically not an intractable problem … The commission sees breathtaking possibilities for safer, strong Native communities …”
The breadth and depth of the report is also breathtaking. It will be very interesting to see how it is received in today’s U.S. Capitol.
Eid and his eight fellow co-commissioners, a non-partisan group but comprised of both Republicans and Democrats, held field hearings and site visits in all 12 of the of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ regions across the U.S. They worked as volunteers, with a small federal staff and no offices.
All recommendations in the report are unanimous.