Difficulties of indian cases at courts


 Difficulties Managing Indian Cases? Ten Public Law 280 criminal justice workers responded to the question: When serving Indian clients, do you have difficulty managing the cases of Indian clients? Seven Public Law 280 respondents (70%) say they do not have difficulties, or they do not have difficulties that are significantly different from non-Indian cases. Three Public Law 280 criminal justice personnel (30%) say they meet with difficulties managing Indian cases, and suggest that cultural differences, substance-abuse cases, and transportation issues are primary difficulties. Most Public Law 280 criminal justice respondents say they do not have any special difficulties working with Indian clients or cases. The numbers of respondents are small, and although these data suggest a possible trend, more data are required to create greater confidence in the direction of the data. Suggestions for Improving Services to Indian Clients Twenty-one probation officers provided suggestions for improving services to Indian clients.

 Eleven Public Law 280 Probation officers suggested strategies for improving county services to Indian clients. The Public Law 280 probation officers say that tribally based treatments are preferred, there is need to learn about the Indians’ culture and community, and engage in community activities and organizations. The most frequently mentioned suggestion was to learn the culture and learn directly in the community (72.7%). Some comments include: Well, actually getting involved with some events in the community is helpful. I can understand that staff would be saying, 

probation officers would be saying, “When would I find the time to do that, have you looked at my caseload?” So, that sort of stuff ... teaming up with people that work out there (on the reservation). Because we are outsiders coming in, so that can occur for public safety purposes that can come with ride-alongs or staff, or law enforcement up 272 This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. there. 

But it can also come in participation in school-attendance review board. I suspect one of the things that can occur up there can include the legal and ethically appropriate and allowable, multidisciplinary teams that we have seen in a lot of different areas of the county, which allows people, the appropriate people with the appropriate level of training regarding confidentiality with the appropriate signed consents and all of that, to share appropriate information across agencies with the goal of better serving families. I think be a little bit aware of ethnic differences and just awareness, and they are people like any other people. They need to learn the community. They need to learn the culture.

 I think Europeans tend to think that all native cultures are exactly the same. ... It’s like (they believe) every reservation is exactly the same, but I have been to a lot of reservations nationwide, and it’s totally different, and you almost have to go in there assuming you don’t know anything, because you really don’t … So, I think the agents would benefit by being able to think outside the box a little bit. And I am not saying, you know, break the rules, but I am saying think about the fact that the person who stole the loaf of bread maybe isn’t just a thief. Maybe he stole a loaf of bread because his kids needed to eat. And put yourself in their place a little bit. .

.. So stop being so rigid, and black and white. Get to know the culture. Get to know the people you are dealing with in terms of the law enforcement jurisdiction goes. I would probably tell them to do just like I did. Get involved. Go out to the reservations. Read a book or two ... take classes ... there are classes taught here at the college. ... I think it’s very important to get the historical perspective. Get to know the community. Get to know the people out there. Identify the key players out on the reservations. Some people can be a real, major resource. Law enforcement, tribal police, get to know those officers out there. Because they are an excellent resource. Even when you are interviewing your clients, get to know as much about them as you possibly can, you know, family members. I think gaining a better understanding of what the culture is all about, again I think our officers, generally speaking, do not receive adequate training in the area of cultural competency around Native American issues and their culture. Ten non-Public Law 280 probation officers, who are serving tribal courts, gave suggestions for improving services to Indians on probation. They suggest more cultural training 273 This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. and learning Indian cultures;

 keeping objectivity; getting to know tribal priorities; and more staff, space, and other resource issues. Some comments include: So yeah, they might be feeling their emotions, but you have always got to be a probation officer. You are not a counselor, and once your instincts stay that way, then it’s more than likely you are going to be a more effective probation officer, and you will see more success rates. To understand as best as possible, to learn and understand what the tribal priorities and needs are, and why. Because I figure we are not here to develop something that we think ought to be, but what the tribe wants to have us do and carry out for them. Just to be understanding. To be understanding, and to be able to work with the person. ..

. They have got to be held accountable. I will tell you, Indian people are definitely unique to their culture and in their thinking. I don’t know any strategies. I just know that there is a lot of prejudice from the Indian to the whites, and you think that it’s prejudice from white folks to Indians, but it goes both ways. ... So it’s generations of prejudice and anger and negativity that is passed on. It’s just so concentrated in the Indian communities. I think it’s just a matter of having a certain rapport and being able to come in and talk to them and get them to listen. I don’t think it’s any more than that, and I don’t know how you get that.

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