Why Are American Indians Important as a “Category of Difference in the Criminal Justice System?
residents. The rate of violent crimes committed against Native Americans is substantially higher than any other minority group in the United States. Yet, little or no attention is paid to them. According to information collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), American Indians are likely to experience violent crimes at more than twice the rate of all other U.S. residents.
A considerable body of empirical research demonstrates that African Americans, and in particular, those African Americans who murder whites, are more likely to get the death penalty than those who murder African Americans, or than whites who are convicted of murdering whites.
The study does not possess the data necessary to formally test the theory among American Indians. Future research should conduct qualitative research within courtrooms to determine judges’ and other courtroom actors’ dispositions and explanations for sentencing decisions. Future researchers should continue to examine differences between all racial groups regarding the sentencing process, while paying special attention to American Indians and other frequently-forgotten racial groups.
Anderson, Elijah. 1994. “The Code of the Streets.” The Atlantic Monthly, May 1994, pp. 81-94.
Baldus, David C., George Woodworth, and Charles A. Pulaski, Jr. 1990. Equal Justice and the Death Penalty: A Legal and Empirical Analysis. Boston, MA: Northeastern U. Press
Glaze, Lauren E. and Seri Palla. 2004. Probation and Parole in the United States, 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin. NCJ 205336. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.