WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, today welcomed committee passage of legislation he introduced to expand critical resources and programs for Indian victims of crime.
The Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act, which has 9 bipartisan cosponsors, increases resources for tribal victim assistance by requiring a 5 percent allocation from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) be provided to Indian tribes through a grant program. Despite high rates of victimization, Indian tribes currently receive less than one percent of CVF resources.
“The grant program created by the SURVIVE Act will improve public safety and strengthen victim services in Indian Country,” said Hoeven. “Tribal communities experience some of the highest victimization rates in the country, with little to no resources to assist victims. This bill will establish direct tribal access to the Crime Victims Fund by creating a five percent set aside for Indian tribes, which amounts to $150 million per year for culturally relevant and tribal specific victim assistance programs.”
Additionally, the senator’s bill empowers tribal victims of crime by:
• Expanding the types of victim assistance, services, and infrastructure for which the funds may be used, including domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, legal assistance and services, and child and elder abuse programs.
• Enhancing Indian tribes’ flexibility to deliver culturally tailored victim services that best meet the needs of their local communities.
• Providing for significant confidentiality and privacy protections for crime victims receiving services.
• Increasing the resources available to Indian crime victims from the CVF, which is funded by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, without increasing overall spending.
The SURVIVE Act has received support from the National Congress of American Indians, the United Tribes of North Dakota, the Navajo Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe.
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously voted to advance the bill to the full Senate.