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Senate hearing on Indian Country declination
Monday, September 15, 2008
Filed Under: Law | Politics

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will hold an oversight hearing this Thursday, September 18, to examine federal declinations to prosecute crimes in Indian Country.

According to committee members, U.S. Attorneys have declined to prosecute 62 percent of cases on reservations. The Denver Post reported that 58 percent of serious assaults, 76 percent of sex crimes involving adults and 72 percent of sex crimes involving children went unpunished from fiscal year 2004 through the first nine months of fiscal year 2007.

Committee members have introduced S.3320, the Tribal Law and Order Act, to address the issue. The bill would require the Department of Justice to submit reports on the crimes they decline to prosecute.

Leading federal prosecutors, including Gretchen Shappert the chair of the Native American Issues Subcommittee at DOJ, and Diane Humetewa of Arizona, the first Native woman to serve as U.S. Attorney, have questioned the need to provide such reports. They say releasing data could jeopardize criminal investigations.

The hearing on the issue will take place at 9:30am in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. A witness list hasn't been released.

Committee Notice
OVERSIGHT HEARING to examine Federal declinations to prosecute crimes in Indian Country. (September 18, 2008)

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