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Report: Native Americans make up disproportionate share of Montana’s inmates

March 2, 2016

The following is adapted from “Report: Native Americans make up disproportionate share of Montana’s inmates”, a recent article from the Billings Gazette written by James DeHaven.


A recent report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a national nonprofit organization contracted by state legislators to help figure out how to reduce prison spending and jail crowding, concluded that Montana is putting more people in jail than it releases – not because the number of criminals is increasing, but because Montana is incarcerating the same people over and over again.

The report, presented Tuesday to lawmakers and others appointed to Montana’s Commission on Sentencing, found a 12 percent increase in arrests between 2009 and 2015, despite an 18 percent decline in property and violent crimes between 2000 and 2014.

It also found American Indians represent a disproportionate share of those totals, accounting for nearly one in five arrests while making up only 7 percent of the state’s population.

American Indians represented an even greater share, more than one-quarter, of those arrested for parole violations and failure to appear in court — offenses that combined to account for nearly half of the statewide increase in arrests.


To learn more about this issue, click here for the Billings Gazette piece.

Last modified: March 2, 2016