Experts criticize policy after Ojibwe boy, 11, jailed

Law enforcement experts criticized a policy that led to the arrest of an 11-year-old Ojibwe boy in Minnesota.

The boy was handcuffed and held overnight even though is a victim and witness in an assault case. Authorities in Mille Lacs County said he failed to respond to a subpoena to appear in court.

"I've never heard of a policy like that," Richard Frase, a University of Minnesota law professor, told The Minneapolis Star Tribune. He said a policy that has the potential to treat victims the same as defendants is questionable.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman acknowledged it is sometimes difficult to get witnesses to cooperate. But he said Mille Lacs County could have handled the situation without detaining the 11-year-old boy.

The incident has sparked outrage among the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The boy, a tribal member, was taken from the Nay Ay Shing school on the reservation in handcuffs. Minnesota is a Public Law 280 state.

"The community is absolutely up in arms. They are furious and mad as hell," said Tadd Johnson, the tribe's special counsel, The Mille Lacs Messenger reported.

Mille Lacs Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin sent a letter to state Attorney General Lori Swanson asking for intervention. Swanson sent two attorneys to the county to investigate and determine if the state has jurisdiction.

Get the Story:
Experts say putting shackles on young victim is policy flaw (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 5/4)
State looks into boy's detention (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 5/4)
Mille Lacs Band community outraged (The Mille Lacs Messenger 5/2)

Relevant Links:
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe -

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County handcuffed and jailed 11-year-old Ojibwe boy (5/3)