NIJ Journal Issue: 265 Dated: April 2010 Pages: 16-17
This article reports on the NIJ-sponsored (National Institute of Justice) evaluation of the Comprehensive Indian Resources for Community and Law Enforcement Project (CIRCLE), which aims to improve criminal justice systems of three Indian tribes by reducing crime and improving safety.
The tribes - the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Pueblo of Zuni - focused their CIRCLE funds on different objectives, depending on their particular needs. The Pueblo of Zuni emphasized building a management information system; expanding community policing; developing a model to decrease youth and family violence; and strengthening law enforcement, corrections, and domestic violence service agencies. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe focused on creating a better tribal court system, building a juvenile detention and rehabilitation center, expanding victim services, and expanding the police force. The Oglala Sioux Tribe addressed expanding youth services and the police force, as well as improving the tribal court system and victim services. Given the tribes' diverse approaches in meeting the broad goals of reducing crime and improving safety, the evaluation examined the achievements of each tribe individually and in detail; however, the evaluation did draw general lessons from the specific findings. The evaluation found that addressing sustainability at the beginning of a project helped tribes plan their changes according to projected long-term effects. In addition, the tribes wanted the freedom to shape tribal institutions and design changes tailored to the particular needs of their communities. The evaluation also recognized the need for tribes to develop criminal justice processes (not merely outcomes) that are culturally fitting. The evaluation concluded that although crime reduction could not be definitively attributed to CIRCLE efforts, the changes documented could likely reduce crime. The achievements of local data-gathering and an understanding of conditions specific to a locale helped to identify opportunities for action to reduce crime.
Date Published: April 1, 2010