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Tribes struggle to provide services to youth in justice system

A sign to the Wanbli Wiconi Tipi Youth Wellness and Renewal Center on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Photo from Rosebud Sioux Tribe

Juveniles who commit crimes or get into trouble in Indian Country are often placed in detention centers where they receive little support and services, The Washington Post reports.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe operates the Kiyuksa O'Tipi Reintegration Center for youth. But there are no classes, counseling or other services that could prevent them from returning to the justice system as adults.

"Funding ran out two years ago," an official at the center told the paper.

A 17-year-old girl who was sent to the center on four different occasions described the conditions as less than ideal. "There were no teachers or counselors. They woke us up to take showers and clean up. Then, we were just sitting there," the teen told the paper.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe appears to be in a better situation. The Wanbli Wiconi Tipi Youth Wellness and Renewal Center offers language classes, field trips and other programs to rehabilitate youth.

“We are trying to integrate traditional Lakota cultural information, and rehabilitate our youth by bridging the gaps they might have with their identities and who they are,” Miskoo Petite, who runs the center, told the paper.

But the facility also depends on federal funds. Petitte lost funding for a greenhouse and funding for a clinical psychologist is about to run out.

Get the Story:
From broken homes to a broken system (The Washington Post 11/28)

Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence Report:
Ending Violence so Children Can Thrive (November 2014)

Indian Law and Order Commission Report:
A Roadmap For Making Native America Safer (November 2013)

Related Stories:
DOJ task force calls for tribal jurisdiction in child abuse cases (11/18)

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