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US Attorney talks drug issues on reservations in South Dakota

Some tribes are doing better than others when it comes to addressing drug problems on reservations, the top federal prosecutor in South Dakota said.

Since taking office, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson has been working with tribes to strengthen law enforcement and justice systems. But he said some tribes aren't holding offenders responsible.

“There are still (tribal) councils that treat their court system like a jobs program,” Johnson told The Yankton Press & Dakotan. “You can’t have a court system when you continue to treat it that way.”

Johnson in particular said the Yankton Sioux Tribe hasn't been doing as well as others in that respect. But that appears to be changing -- tribal leaders and members have galvanized due to the recent death of a two-year-old girl in a home where methamphetamine and other drugs were being used.

“We are seeing more reporting of crime on the reservation, more turning in of the perpetrators of these crimes,” Johnson told the paper.

The girl, RieLee Lovell, died in a tribal housing unit. But the tribe lacks criminal jurisdiction over the site, an issue that Johnson said has posed problems for adequate law enforcement.

Get the Story:
A Call For A Joint Effort (The Yankton Press & Dakotan 8/8)

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