Wednesday, August 19, 2015

‘Cooked to Death’: Inside South Dakota's Juvenile Justice Reign of Terror

Natives in state-run juvenile detention homes face a cultural crisis everywhere, but from 1996 until 2001, South Dakota Governor Bill Janklow’s juvenile justice system was reportedly a reign of terror, and Native youth suffered the most.

Today, tribal youth on reservations have better options. Pine Ridge has its own program for youth offenders. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Youth Wellness and Renew Center, also known as Wanbli Wiconi Tipi, utilizes restorative justice rather than punishment and alienation from family and community. Restorative justice brings the youth back into the community and allows them to repair relationships by making amends. In Sisseton, young Native first offenders face a teen court of their peers rather than a judge in a courtroom. If they do end up in a detention center, they have the new Young Ambassadors Leadership Program to help re-integrate them into their families and communities.

RELATED: ‘Terrible Racial Disparities’ Not Fixed With SD Juvenile Justice Reform

Things have even improved in state-run facilities, but the horrors youth suffered under Governor Janklow cannot be forgotten. His military-minded boot camps and youth prisons gave South Dakota’s Department of Corrections a lot to recover from.



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