WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today welcomed the committee’s passage of the Tribal Law and Order Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2017 (S. 1953), legislation he introduced to enhance tribal justice and public safety in Indian communities.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), John Barrasso (R-WY), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), reauthorizes and extends critical programs under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. It also adds additional requirements to establish greater agency oversight, improve data collection, and strengthen protections for Native youth.
“Our committee is working to secure a safer, stronger Indian Country,” said Hoeven. “This bill is an important step toward enhancing public safety in tribal communities. It reauthorizes several critical public safety programs, promotes more coordination and cooperation between federal agencies and tribes, and brings more accountability and oversight to law and order responsibilities in Indian Country.”
Most notably, the bill strengthens public safety in tribal communities by:
- Establishing accountability, oversight and coordination authority within the Department of Justice’s Office of the Deputy Attorney General.
- Improving Department of Justice data collection on Native American victims of human trafficking.
- Extending the Bureau of Prisons pilot program, which allows tribally convicted defendants of violent crimes to be housed in federal facilities, for another 7 years.
- Making permanent the Shadow Wolves program within the Department of Homeland Security.
- Requiring reporting for grants or pilot programs under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and other grants through the Department of Justice on matters related to Indian tribes and Indian victims.
- Improving justice for Indian youth by requiring the Interior Secretary, Attorney General, and Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to coordinate and assist tribes in addressing juvenile offenses.
- Reauthorizing funding for several tribal justice grants, including those under Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Indian Tribal Justice Technical and Legal Assistance Act of 2000, Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1968, and Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974.
Federal data shows that Indian communities experience some of the highest crime rates in the country.
In 2010, Congress passed the Tribal Law and Order Act as part of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act Amendments. The law was a first step toward improving the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice systems in Indian Country. Continued enhancements are necessary to reduce crime, overcrowded jail conditions and recidivism.