Category Archives: Law

Missing Figures in Indian Country

Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma. Photo by jonathanw100/Flickr

Mother Jones

Native American crime statistics are notoriously scattered or simply non-existent, so luckily for me, Mac McClelland, a former fact-checker, neatly annotated her investigative steps behind this issue’s “A Fistful of Dollars.” The stirring piece highlights Indian Country’s fragmented justice system and the services offered by a Pawnee man, who is routinely hired to avenge crimes that have gone unpunished. Melissa Tatum, research law professor and associate director of the University of Arizona Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program, explained to me that many available stats are based on national surveys, which fail to carve out the realities of the Indian demographics.

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[UPDATED]: IU Professor Stabbed To Death in His Home

NPR/WFIU

BLOOMINGTON, IN. Twenty-five-year-old Michael James Griffin is being held in the Monroe County Jail in connection with the Sunday death of Indiana University English professor Don Belton.

Indiana University English Professor Don Belton was supposed to be in Hawaii Sunday when a friend, who was house sitting for Belton, discovered his body at his home in the 900 block of South Madison Street. He died from multiple stab wounds.

Lieutenant David Drake with the Bloomington Police Department says Belton’s journal entries led them to suspect Michael Griffin, a 25-year-old Bloomington man.

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Interpreters Offer Solutions for BPD Language Barriers

WFIU/NPR

BLOOMINGTON, IN. As WFIU’s Emily reports in part two of her  series “Interpreting the Law,” there are steps a city with limited resources can take to improve access.

Under Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, any group funded by the federal government is required to provide what’s called “meaningful access” to services for citizens of a different national origin.  Courts have since ruled language is an element of national origin and thus must be considered.

The Bloomington Police Department receives federal grant money, meaning it’s subject to Title 6 and must attempt to find translators who can communicate with those whom officers question during the course of an investigation.  Currently, the department has only two officers who speak Spanish — just one of many languages spoken in a community with an internationally-recognized university.  BPD Captain Joe Qualters said taking an officer off duty for interpretation or language training would cost the department money and create a gap in patrolling…

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Bloomington Police Struggle With Language Barrier

WFIU/NPR

Photo by .m_for_matthhijs/Flickr

BLOOMINGTON, IN. Bloomington boasts more than 8,500 who claim another language as their mother tongue.  Of those, 2,300 are Hispanic.  Just two Bloomington police officers are fluent in Spanish, and there are no interpreters on the BPD payroll.

Police leaders say the city’s legal system is struggling to bridge language and cultural barrier. WFIU’s Emily Loftis reports.

 

 

The Bloomington Police Department has two bilingual officers, but no bilingual dispatchers to answer emergency calls, though they often use phone interpreters during emergency situations…

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13-Year Old Brown Co. Boy to Be Tried As An Adult in Murder

WFIU/NPR (Note: The lede to this story is omitted. See the previous post for background.)

Photo by Emily Loftis

NASHVILLE, IN. In a hearing ruling issued last week, Judge Judith Stewart said the violent nature of Blade Reed’s actions and his history of abuse and aggressive behavior make the risk of recidivism is too high for a juvenile detention sentence to be in the community’s best interest.  Stewart also says the juvenile detention would allow less time for Blade’s rehabilitation.

Reed’s attorney, Jim Roberts disagreed with the Judge. “I’m sad.  I’m saddened for Blade and to some extent I’m saddened for the community,” said Roberts. “I feel that if this community is to be judged by how it treats its children then this doesn’t really speak very well for the county.  And that’s bad.  I believe that Blade is much more of a victim…

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Direction of 13-Year-Old’s Trial Rests With Brown County Judge

WFIU/NPR

Blade Reed is ushered out of the Nashville courthouse. Photo by Emily Loftis

NASHVILLE, IN. A Brown County judge is set to decide whether a 13-year-old boy from Nashville facing allegations of murder will be tried as an adult or as a juvenile.

Judge Judith Stewart heard arguments on whether the community and the boy’s best interest would better served in adult or juvenile court.  The law presumes any child at least ten years old who is charged with murder should be waived into adult court unless the defense can prove it’s in the child’s and the community’s best interest for him to stay in the juvenile system.

Blade Reed has been charged with murder after accompanying his brother, Bennie, to the home of Richard and Mary Voland on November 15th, when Bennie admits he shot the couple, killing Richard.  Blade cut Mary’s throat, but not deep enough to kill her, as Bennie had ordered him.  The 13-year old later told police he didn’t want to take the woman’s life…

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Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign Part II: ACLU Files Censorship Suit

WFIU/NPR

BLOOMINGTON, IN. A legal debate over Bloomington Transit’s policy banning the posting of any “controversial” statements on buses has begun after the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign, or INABC, requested an ad with the statement “You Can Be Good Without God”.  As Emily Loftis reports in the second part of WFIU’s series on the debate, The American Civil Liberties Union has since filed a lawsuit against the transit company on behalf of the INABC, arguing the policy illegally allows censorship.

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