Response: The South Dakota Indian crime study
"On July 28, distinguished professors Carole Goldberg and Kevin Washburn wrote an opinion piece in Indian Country Today stating, ''It would be a mistake to accept the conclusions of the South Dakota study,'' which is set to be published this winter in American Indian Culture and Research Journal.

We feel a response to that Perspective is needed to correct some of what Goldberg and Washburn wrote. Also, we, as two of the four co-authors of that study, would like to further challenge the community of interested academics, advocates and those generally concerned about American Indian criminal justice to continue to pursue reliable and context-sensitive research in this area.

First, some clarifications are in order. To professors Goldberg and Washburn's claim that ''the South Dakota report asserts that victimization surveys are unreliable,'' it is important to note that this is not what we wrote in our forthcoming AICRJ article. In our study, we wrote that we were concerned about the reliability of the Bureau of Justice Statistics methods, which rely almost exclusively on the National Crime Victimization Survey. We think it is important to note that this is not the same as asserting victimization surveys are unreliable as Goldberg and Washburn claimed we stated.

Further, our concern for the BJS reliance on NCVS comes from a long line of published research critical of this approach. In fact, a reviewer of our AICRJ article suggested that our work should not be published without articulating this concern. Upon further examination of that reviewer's position, we learned that many criminal justice publications, including well-established introductory textbooks and more detailed journal articles, share the concern that NCVS is subject to over reporting, under reporting and a wide array of sampling errors.

For our research, the greatest concern for sampling error is rooted in the fact that BJS does not seem to include any respondents from reservation communities in its two reports on American Indian crime. While this shortfall is being addressed by Julie Abril and others who are focusing attention on gathering reservation-specific data, analysis and academic research on Native crime victims have relied for years almost exclusively on the BJS' more limited sample of Native victims in urban areas, where the majority - nearly 75 percent - of Native respondents lives and works."

Get the Story:
Rich Braunstein and William Anderson: More on 'lies and damn lies' (Indian Country Today 8/22)

South Dakota Study:
Jurisdictional Variation in American Indian Criminal Justice: An Argument for Stronger Understanding and Better Methods (July 2008)

Related Stories:
Opinion: South Dakota study ignores crime victims (7/25)
Indian crime studies disputed by Republican official (7/16)
South Dakota AG disputes Indian crime studies (7/15)