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NCJ Number: 181988 Find in a Library
Title: Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act: A Disparate Impact on Native American Juveniles
Journal: Minnesota Law Review  Volume:84  Issue:2  Dated:December 1999  Pages:473-503
Author(s): Amy J. Standefer
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 31
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article argues that subjecting Native-American juveniles to Federal sentencing based purely on their jurisdictional status does not serve the interests of justice.
Abstract: Native-American youth who commit a felony crime on an Indian reservation fall within Federal criminal jurisdiction; whereas, non-Indian youths are subject to State jurisdiction. Being sentenced under Federal jurisdiction involves more severe penalties than under most State sentencing guidelines for youth. Following an overview of Federal jurisdiction in Indian country, this paper explores the constitutionality of subjecting Native-American juveniles to Federal criminal jurisdiction, where they face more severe consequences for their actions based solely on their classification as Indians. The author then presents alternatives to the current practice that would reduce the disparate impact that the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act has on Indian juveniles without disturbing the integrity of the Federal judicial system. The author argues that Congress could remedy the disparity by presuming tribal court jurisdiction over Indian juveniles as it already does with State and other local courts. The Federal Government would be able to rebut this presumption by showing either that the tribal government did not have or refused to exercise jurisdiction over the juvenile or that the tribal government did not have available services and programs adequate for the needs of the juvenile. In addition, Congress should formally recognize youthfulness as a mitigating factor in the Federal sentencing of Indian juveniles who face Federal adult prosecution based solely on their jurisdictional status rather than the seriousness of the criminal offense. 166 footnotes
Main Term(s): Juvenile sentencing
Index Term(s): American Indians; Federal Code; Juvenile codes; Juvenile court jurisdiction; Juvenile processing; Sentencing disparity
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