What the Northern Cheyenne Accomplished Under the CIRCLE Project

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe worked to reduce juvenile delinquency. The community's investments included:

  • Expanding probation services.
  • Investing in more tribal court system staff.
  • Expanding its police force.
  • Creating domestic violence and other victim assistance programs.
  • Providing culturally appropriate services to juvenile delinquents.
  • Constructing a juvenile detention center.

These investments had both short-term and longer term effects:

  • In the short term, CIRCLE [1] investments made law enforcement more effective, and officers brought more delinquent youth into the justice system.
  • In the longer term, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe's new, CIRCLE-funded juvenile detention center improved opportunities for delinquent youth. However, even though the tribe could not sustain the project's other program and staffing investments after the three years of CIRCLE funding expired.

Using participatory evaluation methods, researchers shifted their focus to:

  • Gaining a comprehensive understanding of juvenile crime on the reservation.
  • Developing a tribal juvenile justice strategy that would extend and complement the benefits of the tribe's new juvenile detention and rehabilitation center.

Because data were sparse, researchers looked for information from a variety of traditional and nontraditional sources. They examined incident and arrest reports, case files, arrest logs and reports to funders and oversight agencies.

Results showed that:

  • Officers most commonly arrested youth for public intoxication and curfew violations.
  • Repeat offenders accounted for much juvenile crime.
  • Violent juvenile offenders sometimes began their careers as repeat petty offenders.

The evaluation pointed to a new strategy for fighting crime at the Northern Cheyenne reservation. By targeting low-level offenders, the tribe could effectively diminish the frequency and severity of reservation crime.

Notes

[1] The CIRCLE Project — the Comprehensive Indian Resources for Community and Law Enforcement Project — was a partnership of several agencies in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe and Pueblo of Zuni to strengthen the tribes' criminal justice systems. As part of the initiative, the National Institute of Justice and its DOJ partners funded an evaluation of the CIRCLE Project.

Funds came from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Corrections Program Office, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office for Victims of Crime, Office on Violence Against Women, and Office of the Comptroller. Some of this money would have been invested in Indian Country anyway; however, the native nations participating in CIRCLE received between 40 percent and 400 percent more from participating DOJ agencies than comparable tribes. Learn more about the CIRCLE Project and its evaluation.

Date Modified: January 20, 2010