Methodology of law in native america

This study aims to answer five questions: 1) How do crime rates on reservations
affected by Public Law 280 compare with crime rates on other reservations and elsewhere
within Public Law 280 states? 2) Is law enforcement more or less available or well
funded for tribes affected by Public Law 280 as compared with non-Public Law 280
tribes, and elsewhere in Public Law 280 states? 3) What is the quality of state law
enforcement and criminal justice under Public Law 280 in terms of cultural awareness
and sensitivity, fairness of treatment, responsiveness to community priorities,
thoroughness of investigations, etc., as compared with law enforcement and criminal
justice in non-Public Law 280 jurisdictions? 4) 

Does the presence of state law
enforcement inhibit or impair tribal legal development? 5) How effective have
cooperative agreements, concurrent jurisdiction, and retrocession efforts been to alleviate
any problems that may be associated with Public Law 280?
At the outset of our research, anecdotal information from scholarly, government,
and journalistic sources suggested that tribes subject to state jurisdiction under Public
Law 280 were dissatisfied with that arrangement and preferred the federal-tribal
jurisdiction scheme prevailing in non-Public Law 280 states. Thus, our initial hypothesis
was that reservation residents would have a more negative view of law enforcement and
criminal justice under Public Law 280 than the county police and court officials.
Furthermore, we speculated that a comparison of Public Law 280 and non-Public Law
280 tribes regarding the above questions would yield more positive results for the latter.

 based on our review of the literature and the data we began to accumulate,
some of our working hypotheses shifted, especially regarding the Public Law 280/nonPublic Law 280 state comparisons. As discussed in Chapter 2, it appears that outside the
context of Public Law 280, tribal community satisfaction and overall effectiveness of law
enforcement and criminal justice on reservations vary depending on the extent of tribal
control and accountability to tribal communities, as well as the availability of adequate
resources to carry out community priorities for public safety. If that is true, then for
tribes affected by Public Law 280, the same factors may be at work. That is, where
Public Law 280 has been implemented in such a way as to allow for greater
accountability of state law enforcement to tribal communities and greater financial and
other support for reservation law enforcement and criminal justice, then tribal satisfaction
and effectiveness of law enforcement and criminal justice may be higher than where it
has not been so implemented. 

In other words, the greater differences may lie within the
sets of Public Law 280 tribes and non-Public Law 280 tribes, not between them.
To answer these questions and test our hypotheses, we divided the project into
four components:

 1) gathering data through interviews with members and officials of
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.
selected tribes, as well as local law enforcement and criminal justice personnel from the
corresponding counties; 2) gathering crime data for mandatory Public Law 280
reservations in four states; 3) gathering secondary data from published sources regarding
county and statewide crime rates; 4) gathering secondary data regarding availability of
law enforcement and criminal justice funding. Our analyses of these data have focused
· comparisons between Public Law 280 and non-Public Law 280 tribes, to
determine whether the presence of state rather than federal criminal
jurisdiction affects tribal satisfaction with law enforcement and criminal
justice, as well as the quality and responsiveness of such services; 

· identification of circumstances (e.g., presence of cooperative agreements,
existence of tribal police departments, funding levels) that may produce
different experiences among Public Law 280 tribes and among non-Public
Law 280 tribes;
· comparisons between reservation residents on the one hand, and law
enforcement and criminal justice officials on the other, to determine
whether perceptions of the quality and effectiveness of law enforcement
and criminal justice match or diverge;
· comparisons among different Public Law 280 states to determine whether
different patterns of implementation of the act are associated with
different outcomes.
Through more than 350 interviews with reservation residents and tribal officials;
state, local, and federal law enforcement officers; and state, local, and federal criminal
justice officials, we investigated the availability, quality, and sensitivity of reservation
law enforcement. 

These interviews were conducted at 17 different reservation sites.1
According to procedures for the protection of human subjects, permission was obtained
from the tribal government at each of these sites and the names of the tribes will not be
disclosed. Instead, they will be designated by state (except where designation would
identify the tribe) and by type of relationship to Public Law 280. A redacted sample of
one of the letters of tribal consent is included at the end of this Report as Appendix A.
Letters of support were also obtained from the State Sheriff’s Association of each of the
mandatory Public Law 280 states included in the study. These letters state a willingness
to facilitate securing reservation-based crime rates as well as to provide contacts in law
enforcement who may be willing to be interviewed. A sample of one of these letters is
included as Appendix B. As discussed below, individual letters of consent were also
obtained from each of the interviewees.

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