Editorial: Study tribal justice in South Dakota
"There is a crisis of crime and justice on America’s Indian reservations, as the residents of South Dakota’s eight reservations know all too well.

Sen. John Thune has heard more and more of those crime horror stories. In response, Thune authored an amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which passed the Senate this week, to study, analyze and suggest solutions for improving the tribal justice systems in North and South Dakota.

Violent crime must not become a permanent, entrenched fact of life on South Dakota’s reservations, Thune said.

His amendment directs the Government Accountability Office to study how tribal courts currently function and to identify weaknesses in the tribal court system that need to be addressed. One of those weaknesses is the lack of a well-educated, law-trained judiciary that is independent and free from the influence of tribal politics.

The GAO study is not the first look at this issue, of course, nor will such a complicated problem be resolved by one more government study.

Still, we applaud Thune and the Senate for their willingness to explore solutions to a growing problem that threatens the safety and sense of security of everyone who lives on or near a South Dakota reservation."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Study of tribal justice good for reservations (The Rapid City Journal 2/29)

Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments:
S.1200 | H.R.1328