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Race and Ethnicity

Native Americans

Though a relatively small portion of U.S. society, Native Americans are a fast rising population increasing from two million in 1990 to around four million in 2000. American Indian communities on reservations are establishing their own tribal criminal justice systems. Some 135 tribal law enforcement agencies and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents police Native American lands. For this reason, statistics involving Native Americans and crime are split between the different systems. Depending on the crime, where it occurred, and against whom, American Indians may be prosecuted in tribal, state, or federal courts.

Crime is a major issue in Indian Country as tribal communities face poverty, high unemployment, isolation in remote areas, suicide, and alcoholism. Some 5 percent of Native Americans eighteens year old and older is involved in the U.S. criminal justice system, twice the rate of white Americans but half the rate of black Americans. American Indians, however, experience violent crime at over twice the rate of blacks and whites. Some 124 Indians per 1,000 residents over twelve years of age experienced violent crimes including sexual assault, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The homicide rates in particular are triple the general population. By the late 1990s, youth gangs were reportedly forming in the remote reservations.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawRace and Ethnicity - Race In U.s. Legal History, Native Americans, Black Americans And Crime, Policing And Minorities