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Cherokee Proposes Casino Dividend Check Garnish for Inmates

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is proposing a plan to garnish casino dividend funds of tribal members that are incarcerated. The plan was introduced by Council Representatives Tunney Crowe and Terry Shell earlier in the month. The idea was brought about to reduce or eliminate fees paid by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to other counties for housing inmates from the reservation. Many inmates from the reservation are, at this time housed in the Swain County Jail in Bryson City and Cherokee has to pay a daily fee to Swain County for each inmate each day. The amount of the dividend garnish for each inmate is yet to be determined. Each Tribal member gets a share of casino profits, usually equaling about $8000 a year pre taxes. The tribe does currently garnish per-capita money for child support, resulting in Cherokee having the highest rate of child support collection in the state. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians still have several steps before the proposal would become a law, the tribe is still working on construction of a 75 bed jail on the reservation, which will in turn be a part of a much larger Justice Center. The tribal attorney also has to draft a sample legislation that will need to be passed by the Tribal Council and then signed by the Chief.