WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced S. 2920, the Tribal Law and Order Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2016.
The act reauthorizes several provisions of the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) of 2010. It addresses the needs of public safety in Indian Country by focusing on access to law enforcement, data sharing, coordination, and juvenile justice.
“Crime levels are unacceptably high across Indian County,” said Chairman Barrasso. “Our committee has heard that continued enhancements to the Tribal Law and Order Act would assist law enforcement serving tribal communities, and that’s what this bill aims to do. We want to make Indian Country safer.”
S. 2920 will address public safety in Indian Country by:
· Reauthorizing the Bureau of Prisons pilot program that allows certain tribally convicted persons to be held in the bureau’s facilities;
· Reauthorizing law enforcement and judicial training for investigation and prosecution of illegal narcotics and the prevention and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse;
· Requiring the attorney general to share reports from the federal criminal information database with Indian tribe;
· Enabling tribes to have access to federal background-check information, as well as data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics;
· Making permanent the Shadow Wolves drug-trafficking-prevention program within the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement;
· Directing the administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to consult with Indian tribes biannually on strengthening government-to-government relationships and improving justice for Indian youth;
· Directing the comptroller general to submit a baseline report to Congress on Indian youth in juvenile justice systems, facilities for Indian youth, federal agency coordination, and existing programs;
· Improving justice for Indian youth by requiring notice to tribes when a member youth enters a state or local justice system, requiring tribal participation on advisory groups, coordinating services for tribal youth, and including tribal traditional or cultural programs which reduce recidivism as authorized activities for federal funding; and
· Creating tribal liaisons and special assistant federal public defenders, similar to the liaisons and special assistant U.S attorneys in the U.S. attorneys’ offices.
In 2010, Congress passed the Tribal Law and Order Act. It was incorporated into the Indian Arts and Crafts Act Amendments, and became law that year. It was a first step toward improving the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice systems in Indian Country.
On March 31, 2015, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a field oversight hearing on “Addressing the Harmful Effects of Dangerous Drugs in Native Communities.” The hearing was held in Ethete, Wyo., on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
On July 15, 2015, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing on “Juvenile Justice in Indian Country: Challenges and Promising Strategies.”
On July 29, 2015, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing on “Examining the True Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Native Communities.”
On Dec. 2, 2015, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing on the “Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) – 5 Years Later: How have the justice systems in Indian Country improved?”
On Feb. 25, 2016, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a public roundtable on the “Tribal Law and Order Act 5 Years Later: Next Steps to Improving Justice Systems in Indian Communities.”