Samuel Winder: Indian defendants face harsher criminal penalties

Samuel L. Winder. Photo from Facebook

Samuel Winder, a member of the Southern Ute Tribe who is a former federal prosecutor and former state judge in New Mexico, discusses the disparate justice system in Indian Country:
I am very familiar with history of the Major Crimes Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1885, the basis for prosecution of “major crimes.”

As a former federal prosecutor, I am keenly aware of the sentencing issues in federal court. As a former state district judge in Bernalillo County (I am a Republican who lost my position in the 2012 general election), I also sentenced many American Indians in state District Court.

Based on the 1885 law, American Indians are prosecuted for felony crimes on Indian lands. The net effect is American Indians will incur far longer terms of imprisonment than they probably would have received in state court for the same conduct.

I can affirm from first-hand knowledge and experience that federal penalties are far more severe than for American Indians who are prosecuted in state District Court based upon my experience.

Get the Story:
Samuel L. Winder: Indians don’t get a fair shake in federal courts (The Albuquerque Journal 2/4)

Also Today:
Are feds too tough? Or is New Mexico too soft? (The Albuquerque Journal 1/24)

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