Cherokee Nation

Posted: Dec 27, 2023 8:59 AMUpdated: Dec 28, 2023 4:56 AM

Cherokee Nation Eyes Building Their Own Prisons in a New Criminal Justice Reform Task Force

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Tom Davis
Cherokee Nation will examine the possibility of building their own prisons as part of a study with a new Cherokee Nation Criminal Justice Reform Task Force
Prinicpal Chief of Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin Jr. was a recent guest on COMMUNITY CONNECTION. Hoskin said, "Since the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed tribal jurisdiction over our reservations in eastern Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation was quick to push forward with a transformative vision for our criminal justice system. Now we are continuing to refine ideas and develop strategies that both respond effectively to crimes and prevent new crimes from happening."
Cherokee Nation has exclusive tribal jurisdiction across their 7,000-square-mile reservation. Hoskin said that Cherokee Nation is dedicated to building up our criminal justice system to become not just the best within our 14-county reservation, but the best in Oklahoma and across Indian Country.Hoskin said, "Cherokee people deserve a system that not only protects victims, but also fosters reform, redemption and hope for offenders who have paid their debt."
Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner recently created a new task force to study criminal sentencing reform and ways to enhance Cherokee Nation’s re-entry program. It is also tasked with evaluating detention facility needs. That means the possibility of building their own prisons
According to Hoskin, the urgency of this critical work is reflected in the task force's swift deadline, which is set for February 1, 2024. By that date, Cherokee Nations plans to have a strategic plan to address sentencing reform and re-entry program enhancements.
Since the McGirt decision, Cherokee Nation has experienced an astounding 380% increase of cases in their criminal justice system, with more than 10,000 felony or misdemeanor filings in Cherokee Nation District Court. Hoskin said they are working closely with state, local and federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors on a range of criminal case issues, including investigations, prosecutions, cross-deputization agreements and detention. In 2023, Cherokee Nation also made a total of over $13 million in grants available to every county and local first responder agency across the reservation.
 Hoskin said the responsibility that comes with tribal sovereignty, and we are committed to bringing a thoughtful approach to justice. We believe that sentencing should not only be disciplinary, but also rehabilitative. Our existing re-entry program, operational since 2014, exemplifies our commitment to supporting citizens as they navigate reintegrating back into society. This initiative addresses critical life areas, such as housing, health care and employment, to give ex-offenders the support they need to not repeat past mistakes.
According to Hoskin, the criminal justice reform task force will help guide us on future legislation policy & budget solutions. He said that Cherokee Nation stands as a statewide and nationwide beacon of hope and excellence and that Cherokee Nation will be leading the way to ensure justice is both strong and compassionate, and finding a pathway for crime prevention, redemption and rehabilitation.

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