Examinations of the Native American experience in the US criminal justice system are still relatively sparse, despite earlier calls for increased attention to Native American crime and justice issues. This is unfortunate, as Native Americans are unique among all groups in US society and face distinctive criminal justice jurisdictional complexities. We argue that this uniqueness renders extant racial/ethnic theoretical framings incomplete for understanding the Native American experience with criminal justice in the United States. First, we describe the complexities of criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country, discuss how internal colonialism shapes the Native American experience, and outline a set of directions for research to illuminate such jurisdictional complexities. Second, we discuss general theoretical frameworks and their strengths and limitations in explaining the Native American experience. We argue for a focus on the interlocking institutional power that shapes tribal, state, and federal justice coupling. We present an agenda for research on the consequences of contemporary criminal justice arrangements for individual Native Americans and for Native American communities collectively.

Ulmer, Jeffery Todd and Bradley, Mindy S., Criminal Justice in Indian Country: A Theoretical and Empirical Agenda (January 2019). Annual Review of Criminology, Vol. 2, pp. 337-357, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3317436 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-criminol-011518-024805


Jeffery Todd Ulmer

Penn State University

Jeffery Todd Ulmer is Associate Head of the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Penn State University. His interests include criminology, social psychology, sociology of religion, organizations, and the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Mindy S. Bradley

University of Arkansas

Mindy S. Bradley is a professor at the University of Arkansas in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *