Wind River Reservation, Wyoming


Former legislator John Vinich has taken a job as a prosecutor on the Wind River. Vinich, who served 24 years in the statehouse and ran unsuccessfully for Congress and governor, said his ultimate goal as joint tribal prosecutor is to help keep young people out of trouble. "Right now my goal is to help get more programs here for the young people, good work programs so the kids can be productive and so they have something positive to do where they can earn an income," he said. Vinich, 50, said he is also looking to the U.S. Justice Department to hire reservation-based probation officers this summer. "There is a good system in place here, but we badly need follow-up after a youth appears in court." Vinich said he is also looking to beef up the BIA Police Department on the reservation, which he said is understaffed. "We're working through several different avenues to try to get some additional dollars to improve the entire criminal justice system here, because the caseload is too high." Vinich deals with misdemeanor offenses. Major crimes are transferred to the federal system, he said. "The tribes work on a philosophy of restorative justice and not punishment per se."