The Daily News wrote that the authors of the federal report recommending local sovereignty in rural criminal justice did not want “to see their work sitting on a shelf with others like it, gathering dust.” I couldn’t agree with them more. It should go straight through a shredder.
Anyone who has been in Alaska awhile will remember the 1994 tribal justice fiasco in Southeast. Briefly, two young men from Klawock, then living in Washington State, almost beat a pizza delivery man to death. A credulous Washington State judge was persuaded to allow them, rather than doing time, to be sent to Alaska for punishment by their tribe.
I cannot do justice in this letter to the farce that followed, but suffice it to say that the perpetrators, after supposedly being put through a public “shaming” and “banishment,” simply disappeared. That process was later disavowed as totally illegitimate by Native leaders.
Rural justice issues are grave and serious, but I don’t think we want to open the door to similar shenanigans. The state must retain its sole sovereignty.
— Herb Berkowitz