Criminal Justice in Indian Country: A Theoretical and Empirical Agenda
Posted: 18 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 2019
Examinations of the Native American experience in the US criminal justice system are still relatively sparse, despite earlier calls for increased attention to Native American crime and justice issues. This is unfortunate, as Native Americans are unique among all groups in US society and face distinctive criminal justice jurisdictional complexities. We argue that this uniqueness renders extant racial/ethnic theoretical framings incomplete for understanding the Native American experience with criminal justice in the United States. First, we describe the complexities of criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country, discuss how internal colonialism shapes the Native American experience, and outline a set of directions for research to illuminate such jurisdictional complexities. Second, we discuss general theoretical frameworks and their strengths and limitations in explaining the Native American experience. We argue for a focus on the interlocking institutional power that shapes tribal, state, and federal justice coupling. We present an agenda for research on the consequences of contemporary criminal justice arrangements for individual Native Americans and for Native American communities collectively.
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