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Press Release

Memorandum of Understanding Signed Regarding Youthful Offender Guidance on the Lower Brule Reservation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (LBST) and the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office at a ceremony in Lower Brule, South Dakota, on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. The signing ceremony took place in the Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Courtroom.

This MOU is a collaborative effort between the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office and LBST to develop and effect a creative sentencing action plan, whereby eligible tribal members between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty-four (24), who have committed crimes that do not fall into one of the prohibited categories of the MOU, may be afforded the opportunity to avoid federal prosecution and/or imprisonment. With the implementation of the MOU, youthful offenders will be given a chance to avoid federal convictions which may impact their future. It also allows families to remain intact and the tribe an opportunity to rehabilitate youth in an individualized manner.

The MOU will foster an increased cooperation between the LBST and the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office to promote and increase peace and public safety for tribal communities. LBST Tribal Court has already established a Wellness Court that works to help low-level or misdemeanor offenders who want to overcome serious problems with, or addiction to, alcohol and other substances achieve lifetime sobriety or diversion away from the criminal justice system. Entry into the Wellness Court is not automatic and each request to participate is reviewed on a case by case basis and only a limited number of slots are available at any time.

The MOU was lauded by U.S. Attorney Seiler. “This truly is a great opportunity for youthful offenders on the Lower Brule reservation to have a second chance. Our goal is to make this program a viable alternative to incarceration, while at the same time, holding the offender accountable with less severe punishment. I commend Boyd Gourneau, Chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, and Lorrie Miner, Chief Judge of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, for their commitment to this effort and their foresight in trying to make their reservation a safer place to live.”

The South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office will evaluate any referral of a federal youthful offender to the LBST Wellness Court and will then decide whether or not federal criminal charges should be pursued in federal court. The decision to pursue federal charges rests within the sole discretion of the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Updated June 15, 2017

Indian Country Law and Justice