the three law researchers


Selection of the Interviewees
A team of three researchers visited each of these sites for one week each, meeting
with tribal officials, law enforcement officers, tribal court personnel, elders, and tribal
citizens concerned about or involved with law enforcement and criminal justice issues;
county sheriffs, BIA law enforcement agents, and others associated with tribal law
enforcement; and personnel associated with state or federal court systems that have
responsibility for criminal justice on reservations. We divided these interviewees into
three rough categories — reservation residents (including tribal law enforcement and
criminal justice officials), law enforcement personnel (who would be from state or local
government in Public Law 280 states, and from the federal government in non-Public
Law 280 situations), and criminal justice personnel (again, state or federal, depending on
the type of jurisdictional arrangement for tribe). Occasionally two individuals in related
roles preferred joint interviews, and we honored those preferences.

 When interviewing
elders, we sometimes attended their daily or weekly group lunches, putting together
impromptu focus groups and conducting the interviews en masse.
The respondents are reservation residents, law enforcement personnel, and
criminal justice personnel. Most respondents work with crime-related issues and are
generally well informed about crime, court, and policing issues on Indian reservations.
Reservation-resident respondents are individuals who are employed on the reservation, an
Indian person living on the reservation, or a tribal member. Most reservation residents
are tribal members on the reservation in question, but non-Indian tribal employees and
non-tribal member Indian employees and residents are also part of the reservationresident sample. Reservation residents are chosen because they are community elders or
leaders, or their work is engaged with police, court, social services,

 or related crime
issues. Law enforcement personnel generally are police officers and related personnel
who work for county or BIA police departments. Tribal police officers who work for and
are funded by a tribal government are classified as reservation residents in the PL 280
jurisdictions, while police officers who work for the BIA or federal government, as well
as tribal police in non-PL 280 jurisdictions, are classified as law enforcement personnel.
Criminal justice personnel are judges, attorneys, public defenders, probation officers and
other related personnel who work as county, federal, or (in the non-Public Law 280
jurisdictions) tribal employees or who work in the courts, such as legal advocates, public
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.
defenders, and attorneys. 

Tribal judges and tribal court personnel who work for the tribal
government in PL 280 jurisdictions are classified as reservation residents, and reservation
court and legal personnel who work for the tribe, the BIA or the federal government in
non-PL 280 jurisdictions are classified as criminal justice personnel.
The key to the distinction between reservation residents and the categories of law
enforcement and criminal justice personnel is who has responsibility for criminal
jurisdiction. In the PL 280 jurisdictions, where tribal police and court personnel exist,
they are treated as reservation residents because they are not generally exercising
criminal jurisdiction. They may be enforcing state law under cross-deputization
agreements or enforcing civil laws. However,

 where questions ask reservation residents
in PL 280 jurisdictions to evaluate tribal police and courts, the respondents in those
categories are excluded from the reservation-resident sample. In the non-PL 280
jurisdictions, in contrast, there are crimes over which the tribe has exclusive jurisdiction,
and therefore where tribal police and courts exist, they are generally exercising criminal
jurisdiction. Thus, in these jurisdictions, the tribal police are treated as law enforcement
personnel, and the tribal court and related staff are treated as criminal justice personnel.
Our assumption in constructing the reservation resident category is that
reservation residents will have different work, community, and government experiences
than law enforcement and criminal justice personnel, and they may express these views
and orientations regarding their understandings and experiences with police and courts.
The groupings of reservation residents, law enforcement personnel, and criminal justice
personnel are not based on racial or tribal membership. Many non-Indians work for tribal
governments, and they are classified as reservation residents — except where they are
policing or administering justice in non-PL 280 jurisdictions. Many tribal members work
for county police departments, some are county judges, or work for BIA police
departments or courts. The latter tribal members are classified as law enforcement or
criminal justice personnel because their occupations are outside of tribal government
management, and these tribal members are entrusted to carry out county, state, or federal
laws and procedures and not tribal government law and policing practices.
Certain categories of interviewees were fixtures of these site visits. For the
reservation resident interviews, those included the chief of tribal police or public safety
(where there was one), the chief judge (where there was one), the tribal chair or other
council members, tribal administrators or managers, and elders. For the law enforcement
officers, we invariably interviewed the head of law enforcement for the state or federal
government or that person’s chief deputy, as well as other officers. In the case of
criminal justice officials, we interviewed prosecutors, public defenders, and judicial
officers at each site, as well as probation or parole officers. Additional interviewees were
identified through a “snowballing” technique, in which an interviewee identifies others
relevant to the study.

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