Improvements to the Justice System in Native American Reservations

534 Words3 Pages
The justice system of a society is the reflection of a society’s values and a flawed system is indicative of an unsafe society, a result that can be seen in Native American reservations (Identification of Controversy) (Lead). The justice system in Native American reservations should be improved by increasing the number of prosecuted crimes, increasing the severity of prison sentences by tribal courts, and by promoting the Violence Against Women Act (Thesis). The Justice Department declines too many serious crime cases, such as sexual abuse cases, to improve the statistics of crime in Native American Reservations (Topic Sentence). The Justice Department estimates that crime rates in Native American reservations are “two and a half times higher than the national average” (Williams 1) (Logical Appeal). Native American women are especially in danger as they are assaulted and raped at four times the American average and murdered at ten times the American average (Logical Appeal). Despite these alarming statistics, federal prosecutors declined fifty-two percent of major crime cases in reservations (Logical Appeal) even when there was adequate evidence to file charges (Williams 2). Although tribal courts can prosecute serious crimes, the maximum sentence it can issue is three years in prison, an overwhelmingly light sentence for crimes such as rape (Williams 2) (Topic Sentence). A three-year sentence to prison for rape in a reservation is trivial compared to the United States’ average 162 months or 13.5 year sentence to prison for rape, according to information gathered from the Bureau of Justice statistics (Durose 6) (logical appeal). Tribal courts often turn serious crime files over for federal prosecution to increase the severity of the punishment (Williams 2). Crime rates are more likely to go down with harsher sentences than with lighter sentences as people are discouraged from committing crimes to avoid the punishment (logical appeal). However, if the Justice department continues to decline filing charges, crime rates in reservations will only remain stagnant or even increase due to the reservations’ lack of severity in prosecution. The Violence Against Women Act should receive larger funds as it provides more justice to Native American women (Topic Sentence). Prior to the Violence Against Women Act, non-natives could not be tried in a native court. As President Obama said, “One of the reasons [for violent crime rates] is that when women are abused on tribal lands by an attacker who is not Native American, the attacker is immune from prosecution by tribal courts.
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