Native Americans in Criminal Justice System

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Studies have shown that Native Americans represent large numbers in Prisons and jails for criminal punishment and confinement, they are imprisoned at a very high rate compared to the nationwide average. In cases where charges against them are dropped, Native American youths are probably sent to juvenile courts than whites (Jake, 2015). The percentage of Native Americans killed by police and falling victim of violent crime is also higher compared to other racial groups; they are brutalized and mistreated within the criminal justice system. Many of the severe offenses committed by the Native Americans are taken action at the federal level which mostly involves cruel punishment (Jake, 2015).

Women and children in this community suffer from rampant violence from others when compared to other women, the level of sexual abuse among Native women is high while most children have a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is apparent that more than half of the females have faced either domestic violence or harassment in their lives. Native Americans homicide victims receive minimal justice compared to white victims who are affected by homicide. The number of young Native Americans who commit suicide is more than the national average; this is linked to poverty, joblessness, sexual violence, addiction to drugs and alcoholism. Native Americans who engage in gang activities are more compared to other communities, and when imprisoned they are isolated and treated harshly (Sari, 2014).

What Contributed to these Problems?

Native Americans are denied access to public infrastructure that helps to reduce crime compared to other American minorities. The mass confinement problem of Native Americans results from many unresolved conflicts between federal, racial and state jurisdictions. The agencies in charge of prosecuting the Native Americans are not always defined; it is still determined by complex factors like how severe the charge is, the victim’s race, and the suspected criminals. The level of joblessness and poverty in native communities is high; this contributes to increased crime rates, high suicidal rates, alcohol addiction, and sexual abuse. Native populations have not yet been acknowledged as Native people which it the right that helps them to protect their rights under the law. Witnesses having criminal history fear to report crimes because informing the police might lead to their arrest. The problems could also result from the tension that exists between the police force and individuals from other races. Significant cases are given priorities over minor cases because of limited resources. Therefore, trivial, juvenile offenses like shoplifting and underage drinking go unpunished, the justice system has also failed to protect women against harassment and injustices (Julian, 2015).

Correcting issues facing Native Americans.

Declining the number of Native Americans in jails and juvenile will only be possible if the federal government take active measures by financing child and family services on reservations and also having rehabilitation centers for tribal juveniles and addiction. When individuals who are not Natives commit sexual violence against Native women; they should be prosecuted.  It is also possible to correct issues facing the Native Americans by increasing the number of police officers who guard and investigate to improve the level of confidence in the community in the law enforcement. The criminal justice system should implement ways to analyze how violence affects Native American children and minimize the youths in the criminal justice system.


Jake, F. (2015, April 27). Native Americans are the Unseen Victims of a Broken U.S Justice System. Retrieved from

Julian, B. N. (2015, August 31). 13 Issues Facing Native People Beyond Mascots and Casinos.

Retrieved from HuffPost: 2015

Sari, H. (2014, March 9). The hard lives — and high suicide rate — of Native American children on reservations. Retrieved from The Washington Post:

December 12, 2023



Race and Ethnicity

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