The Emerging Problem of Methamphetamine: A Threat Signaling the Need to Reform Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country
23 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 1, 2012
Since the eighteenth century, the federal government has maintained that it has criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country. Yet, “[t]hough Congress has often justified imposition of the federal criminal justice system in Indian country on the theory that federal laws are necessary to protect public safety, numerous statistical surveys suggest that the federal Indian country criminal justice regime has not achieved any such purpose.” Rather, the failure of the federal criminal justice system in Indian Country is a result of the ineffective criminal jurisdictional scheme created by the Major Crimes Act, the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the Supreme Court’s decision in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe . Therefore, the emerging problem of meth use in Indian Country is a microcosm of the general problems with criminal jurisdiction on Indian reservations.
In order to understand why meth use has become a significant problem in Indian Country, this article examines how the meth problem in Indian Country uniquely challenges law enforcement and suggests some solutions to this growing problem. Part I documents the extent of the meth problem in Indian Country and how it challenges effective law enforcement. Part II will show that the meth problem in Indian Country is a product of the unworkable criminal jurisdictional system applied to Indian Country, and will examine jurisdictional problems associated with the Major Crimes Act, the Indian Civil Rights Act and Oliphant. Finally, Part III offers solutions to the meth problem in Indian Country given the problematic criminal jurisdiction scheme.
Keywords: Indian country, Indian, tribe, American Indian, Native American, criminal jurisdiction, methamphetamine, crime, meth
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