Indian reservations long have grappled with chronic rates of crime higher than all but a handful of the nation's most violent cities. The New York Times says the Justice Department, which is responsible for prosecuting the most serious crimes on reservations, files charges in only about half of Indian Country murder investigations and turns down nearly two-thirds of sexual assault cases, according to new federal data.
The 310 U.S. Indian reservations have violent crime rates that are more than two and a half times higher than the national average. American Indian women are 10 times as likely to be murdered than other Americans. They are raped or sexually assaulted at a rate four times the national average, with more than one in three having either been raped or experienced an attempted rape. The low rate of prosecutions for these crimes by U.S. Attorneys has been a longstanding point of contention for tribes, who say it amounts to a second-class system of justice that encourages lawbreaking. Prosecutors say they turn down most reservation cases because of a lack of admissible evidence.