Support criminal justice reform for Native people

Chase Iron Eyes, Lead Counsel of the Lakota People’s Law Project, is asking us to spread awareness about the need for criminal justice reform for Native people. The video below is made from three talking circles, one in Rapid City, SD, one at Pine Ridge, and one at Standing Rock.

One month ago, my friend from the Oglala Lakota Nation, Robert Horse Stands Waiting, gained his freedom after 20 years in prison. At just 16 years old, he was incarcerated for gang-related activity. Instead of allowing his vitality to be destroyed on the inside, he studied statistics and became an organizer for the past two decades.

Over many decades, we’ve witnessed disturbing trends in our national criminal justice system. Native lives are simply valued less than white lives by law enforcement — and my brothers and sisters are killed or incarcerated at alarming rates.
• According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial group;
• According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, we are incarcerated at a rate 38 percent higher than the national average;
• According to National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Native American youth are 30 percent more likely than whites to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped;
• Native American men are incarcerated at four times the rate of white men and Native American women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women;
• Native Americans fall victim to violent crime at more than double the rate of all other US citizens, according to BJS reports. And 88 percent of violent crime committed against Native women is carried out by non-Native perpetrators.

Chase Iron Eyes, Lead Counsel of the Lakota People’s Law Project

This link will take you to a web page to send a letter to your Congressional representatives, asking them to support criminal justice reform for Native Peoples. https://www.lakotalaw.org/our-actions/support-criminal-justice-reform-for-native-peoples

Wopila! — You can help change the system! — Chase Iron Eyes


Sample letter:

The movement at Standing Rock began to awaken the world to the intersection between Indigenous rights and sustainability. It also provided a grim reminder that the U.S. criminal justice system continues to target First Nations people unfairly. Today, I ask you to leverage your authority as a lawmaker to help change things for the better.

In America today:

• Native Americans are incarcerated at a rate 38 percent higher than the national average, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics;

• Native American youths are 30 percent more likely than whites to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped, according to National Council on Crime and Delinquency;

• Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial group, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice;

• Native American men are incarcerated at four times the rate of white men, and Native American women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women, according to a report compiled by the Lakota People’s Law Project;

• Native Americans fall victim to violent crime at more than double the rate of all other US citizens, according to BJS reports. 88 percent of violent crime committed against Native American women is carried out by non-Native perpetrators.

It is time we started learning from Indigenous peoples instead of incarcerating them. I call on you to actively sponsor and support any and all legislation to level the playing field for American Indians on matters of criminal justice.


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