November 14, 2008
EXPOSÉ AMERICA'S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS profiles a team from THE DENVER POST's award-winning series on the broken justice system on Indian reservations across the country.
Because of a centuries-old law, the Justice Department is responsible for investigating and prosecuting major crimes on most Native American reservations. But as THE DENVER POST reported, law enforcement in Indian country has become "dangerously dysfunctional." The POST depicted a place where terrible crimes are committed, investigations are bungled, and prosecutions rare. The result: Indian reservations already some of the poorest and most crime-plagued communities in America have become what one Navajo official calls "lawless lands."
Justice Department statistics show that the rate of violent crime per every 100,000 residents of Indian country is 492; for the United States as a whole, 330. As the POST AND EXPOSÉ show, higher crime rates don't lead to higher prosecution rates.
N. Bruce Duthu, professor of Native American studies at Dartmouth, and author of AMERICAN INDIANS AND THE LAW, noted in THE NEW YORK TIMES: "The Department of Justice's own records show that in 2006, prosecutors filed only 606 criminal cases in all of Indian country. With more than 560 federally recognized tribes, that works out to a little more than one criminal prosecution for each tribe."
>Read THE DENVER POST series "Lawless Lands"
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Reporter Michael Riley will answer viewer questions about the story. Simply email your questions to us or post them on the blog. We'll post his responses in the next week.
Michael Riley has worked as a national reporter at THE DENVER POST for six years, where he has covered Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq War, the 2008 Democratic National Convention, immigrant and drug smuggling on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the breakdown of justice on American Indian reservations. His work at the POST has been honored nationally by the American Bar Association, the National Newspaper Guild, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the Best in the West competition, Columbia University, IRE, and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. He came to the POST after spending five years as a journalist in Central America and Mexico, including three years working for the HOUSTON CHRONICLE in Mexico City. He is the winner of a year-long Inter America Press Association Fellowship, and his dispatches from Latin America have appeared in THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, THE BALTIMORE SUN, NEWSWEEK, BUSINESSWEEK, and THE ECONOMIST. His education includes a BA in philosophy from Williams College and an MA in political science from the University of Minnesota. He began his career in journalism as a bureau chief for the CASPER STAR TRIBUNE.
Published on November 14, 2008.