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Justice department releases Montana missing persons analysis

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 5/6/20

Montana’s Department of Justice has released a new analysis of missing persons data spanning 2017-19. The May 5 analysis revealed troubling statistics, particularly for indigenous and youth populations in Montana: indigenous persons are four times more likely go missing than non-indigenous, and 81 percent of missing persons are under the age of 18. The data also points to a correlation between missing juveniles and those listed on the state’s Child and Family Services system. Fortunately, 98 percent of those that go missing are either found or the case is closed, but the data will be used by the DOJ for informed policy making in the coming years. “Legislators are very concerned about this issue and they should be. But oftentimes they do not have the information at their fingertips to come up with the right solutions and that’s what this is about. The best solutions have to start with the best data and that’s what we’re interested in doing,” Jon Bennion with the Attorney General’s office told Montana Public Radio. Some key findings: 28 percent of missing individuals went missing more than once within the study period, Big Horn County had nearly double (per capita) the number of missing persons than the next highest county, 83 percent of autopsied missing persons were adult males and 69 percent of those autopsied were males across the age spectrum, and 45 percent of those autopsied were deemed accidental with only 17 percent deemed conclusively as a result of homicide. The release date, May 5, coincided with “National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the birthday of Hanna Harris, a member of the Northern Cheyenne nation who was murdered in 2013, for whom Hanna’s Act was named.”

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