Law \ Legal

Indigenous People Comprise Large Percentage of Montana’s Prison Population

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A new report has found that largest cities contribute disproportionately to the state’s incarceration rates, while some smaller towns and communities have a higher per capita incarceration rate than larger places, and that Native American residents are not only incarcerated at higher rates, but those neighborhoods contribute more to the state’s inmate population, reports Darrell Ehrlick for the Daily Montanan.

The report found that two of the 12 neighborhoods in one city, Billings, were responsible for 38 percent of the prisoners. In addition, indigenous populations in those neighborhoods accounted for 15 and 11 percent of the prison population respectively, despite making up less than 5 percent of the city’s population. Those trends mirror a statewide trend of disproportionate representation among Indigenous peoples in Montana, who were 23 percent of the state prison population in 2020, but less than 7 percent of the statewide population.

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