Barrasso and Tester Introduce Bipartisan SURVIVE Act for Indian Victim Services

Bill Will Improve Access to Victim of Crime Services in Indian Country
Jul 7, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Jon Tester (D-MT), Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced S. 1704, the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment Act (SURVIVE Act). S. 1704 is cosponsored by: Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Steve Daines (R-MT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Tom Udall (D-NM).

The SURVIVE Act supports Indian victims of crime by requiring the Department of the Interior to use a dedicated funding stream from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) to administer a competitive tribal grant program for crime victim services and assistance.

“Indian communities face some of the highest crime rates in the country, but sadly do not have fair access to the Crime Victims Fund. The SURVIVE Act will make it easier for Indian victims of crime to get access to the help they need,” said Chairman Barrasso. “This legislation would ensure that tribes have the flexibility to develop programs that meet the needs of their communities. I am pleased that this bill is cosponsored by so many Members of the Committee and look forward to advancing it as soon as possible.”

“It is critical that folks in Indian Country have the tools they need to keep their communities and families safe,” Vice-Chairman Tester said. “The SURVIVE Act will improve public safety in Native American communities by increasing resources for local law enforcement and expanding services for crime victims. I will continue to seek input directly from tribes to ensure this bill addresses the public safety concerns facing Indian Country.”

Beyond allowing tribes access to the CVF through a fair and competitive grant program, the SURVIVE Act empowers tribes and Indian victims of crime by:

· Expanding/Tailoring the types of crime victim activities and programs for which the CVF funds may be used in Indian communities;

· Enabling tribes to build a baseline capacity to deliver greatly needed, culturally appropriate victim services; and

· Sizably increasing the dollars available to Indian crime victims from the CVF, without increasing spending.

Background

The Crime Victims Fund (CVF) was created in 1984 by the Victims of Crime Act to support services for victims of crime. Over the past five years, tribes have not received more than 0.7% of total CVF assistance funding available, despite federal data showing that Indian communities face some of the highest victimization rates in the country.

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