The systemic injustice suffered by Alaska Natives in the state’s criminal justice system has been discussed for decades. How much longer will Alaskans accept inaction on injustice?
The systemic injustice suffered by Alaska Natives in the state’s criminal justice system has been discussed for decades. In 2002, the Alaska Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights documented the problems and solutions in a comprehensive report entitled Racism’s Frontier. Despite the extensive study, the necessary changes weren’t implemented and an innocent Alaskan Native was given a lifelong sentence. How much longer will Alaskans accept inaction on injustice?
Excerpts from Racism’s Frontier in 2002:
-The State has a constitutional responsibility to provide the same or equal treatment to all people in Alaska, and we haven’t been doing that.
–Evidence presented in the forums reinforced the fact that many lawmakers and other individuals in positions of power are in a state of denial about the existence of civil rights concern.
-Alaska is not immune from the scourge of cultural and racial injustice. Concerns about discrimination and intolerance in Alaska are legitimate. Gov. Tony Knowles
-Many Alaska Natives are forced to rely on public legal assistance…this problem is compounded by the fact that legal defense services funded by the state and federal governments have been reduced over the years, while funding for prosecutors has remained steady, creating an imbalance overly emphasizing criminal punishment without sufficient defensive support.
-More than half of the Alaskan Natives who are in the system are there because the system cut them in a way that’s culturally related…And it goes all the way to the arresting officer, it goes to the public defenders, it goes to the court system, it goes right through the entire system.
–I’m grateful that this advisory board is here to hear these things, but the same thing has been said for 27 years. And I think the public is tired of all these commissions and all these gathering of facts and nothing has ever come about. I think it’s time for action and I think it’s time for someone to take this matter more seriously.
-How many more reports proclaiming this powerlessness, this hopelessness must we publish? How many more commissions, committees, councils do we have to testify to before we see some results?
For more information on Mr. Jack’s wrongful conviction and to join in the effort to gain his exoneration and release, please visit the website established by his family, www.justicefortomtom.com.
If you have more information on Mr. Jack’s wrongful conviction or have other instances of injustice that you would like to see brought to light, please contact:
David Ignell | Forensic Journalist
Powered By Justice is dedicated to the memory of Ramona and Elmer Ignell who moved to Alaska in 1951. They devoted their entire adult lives to helping all Alaskans and co-founded Juneau’s Haven House and the Glory Hall. Their adopted Tlingit names are Kaa Ju Hein and Xhaak’w Eesh.