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Effort to curb crime on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation approved

Police lights. (Republic file photo)

LOWER BRULE — An effort to curb crimes on the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe took effect Wednesday, after an official signing ceremony at the Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Courtroom.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a collaborative effort between the South Dakota U.S. Attorney's Office and the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe that allows eligible tribal members between the ages of 18 and 24 to avoid federal prosecution and prison after committing a crime.

With the implementation of the MOU, youthful offenders will be given the chance to avoid federal convictions that could impact their future and allows the tribe to rehabilitate youth on a case-by-case basis.

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Court has established a Wellness Court that works to help low-level or misdemeanor offenders who have indicated a desire to overcome problems with alcohol and other substances. Entry into Wellness Court is not automatic, and only a limited number of slots are available.

"This truly is a great opportunity for youthful offenders on the Lower Brule reservation to have a second chance," U.S. Attorney Randolph Seiler said. "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 federal referrals to the Wellness Court and then decide whether federal charges should be pursued. The decision to pursue federal charges is solely that of the state U.S. Attorney's Office.