Tribes to finally see funding to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians
Monday, May 9, 2016
More on: appropriations, doj, fy2016, fy2017, grants, h.r.2029, jurisdiction, pascua yaqui, race, s.2837, senate, tribal courts, tulalip, vawa, violence
The flag of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe flies in Arizona. Photo from Facebook
For the first time since the Violence Against Women Act became law in 2013, tribes will be able to obtain federal funds to help them exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians.
The landmark law recognizes the "inherent" authority of tribes to arrest, prosecute and sentence certain non-Indian offenders for some domestic violence crimes. But Congress never funded a program that was designed to help tribes strengthen their justice systems.
That's finally changing now that Congress included a small pot of money in a fiscal year 2016 appropriations measure. The Department of Justice is now accepting applications for the new Grants to Tribal Governments to Exercise Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Program.
“VAWA 2013 closed jurisdictional gaps that had long compromised American Indian and Alaska Native women’s safety and access to justice,” Bea Hanson, the principal deputy director at the Office of Violence Against Women, said in a press release on Monday. “And this new grant program is another step in the department’s ongoing effort to help tribes across the country make full use of the SDVCJ authority.”
The lack of federal funding hasn't stopped tribes from writing new laws, improving their courts and making other changes that enable them to comply with VAWA. The law requires tribes to protect the constitutional rights of all defendants if they choose to participate in the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction program.
But without federal support, tribes have had to redirect scarce resources to the effort.
"We have not received one dollar for our pilot program from the federal
government or the Department of Justice," Deborah Parker, the former vie chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, said last year. “We keep asking when are going to
receive our dollars. We keep getting referred back and forth."
The Tulalip Tribes were the first of three to exercise authority under VAWA.
The Pascua Yaqui Tribe was another participant in the pilot program and a top official said costs for compliance could range widely in Indian Country.
President Barack Obama
signed S.47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, into law at the
Sidney R. Yates Auditorium at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington,
D.C., on March 7, 2013. Photo by Chuck
Kennedy / White House
“Each tribe is different and each tribe has a different justice system in different stages of development, so depending on the tribe it could cost as much as $100,000 or it could cost as much as half a million dollars to put a system in place,” attorney general Alfred Urbina told Cronkite News Service.
VAWA authorized a total of $25 million over five years for training, technical assistance, victim services and other programs. Since lawmakers waited three years to appropriate the first round of funds, they would need to take stronger actions to ensure tribes receive the full amount promised by the law before 2018.
H.R.2029, the fiscal year 2016 omnibus appropriations, in fact only authorized $2.5 million for the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction program. That's only half of the $5 million that should be going to Indian Country every year under Section 904 of VAWA.
There are some small signs of progress, though.
The Senate version of the fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill for the Department of Justice
puts $4 million into the program.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved S.2837 at a markup on April 21. It has not received a vote on the floor and there is no guarantee that those additional VAWA funds will make it to tribes due to the shaky nature of the appropriations process.
For this first round of the program, the department anticipates making
between five to seven awards, according to a solicitation released on Monday. That's just a small percentage of the 500-plus tribes that could conceivably apply for funds. Each grants is anticipated to range between
$300,000 to $450,000.
According to the department, the grants can be used to:
strengthen tribal criminal justice systems to assist Indian tribes in exercising SDVCJ;
The solicitation comes just days after the National Institute of Justice released a report that confirms
that Native American women and men are more likely to experience
sexual violence, physical violence, stalking and psychological aggression
at the hands of someone of a different when compared to non-Hispanic White-only victims.
"While the results on interracial and intraracial victimizations in this report are not surprising, they provide strong support for Indian nations’ sovereign right to prosecute non-Indian offenders," researchers wrote in the report.
Applications for the Grants to Tribal Governments to Exercise Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Program are due June 20. A webinar will be held May 25 to assist tribes with the process.
National Institute of Justice Report:
provide indigent criminal defendants with the effective assistance of licensed defense counsel, at no cost to the defendant, in criminal proceedings in which a participating tribe prosecutes a crime of domestic violence or dating violence or a criminal violation of a protection order;
ensure that, in criminal proceedings in which a participating tribe exercises SDVCJ, jurors are summoned, selected and instructed in a manner consistent with all applicable requirements; and
accord victims of domestic violence, dating violence and violations of protection orders rights that are similar to the rights of a crime victim described the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, consistent with tribal law and custom.
Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men (May 2016)
Indian Law and Order Commission Report:
A Roadmap For
Making Native America Safer (November 2013)
Huron Band to prosecute non-Indians under VAWA (05/05)
Study confirms high rate of violence against
Native women and men (5/5)
Supreme Court case prompts
spirited defense of tribal judiciary systems (04/19)
Bill in Senate expands tribal
jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders (04/14)
Capitol Hill briefing on
Violence Against Women Act in Indian Country (02/22)
Cherokee Nation working to
prosecute non-Indians under VAWA (01/07)
Supreme Court agrees to
review yet another Indian law dispute (12/14)
DOJ asks Supreme Court to
hear Indian domestic violence case (11/11)
Vice President Joe Biden
reflects on triumphs of Obama's Indian policies (10/28)
Tribes still waiting on funds
from Violence Against Women Act (10/16)
Pioneering tribes share
experiences with prosecuting non-Indians (10/07)
DOJ awards $97M in grants for
public safety in Indian Country (09/16)
Nez Perce Tribe hosts
conference to combat violence and abuse (09/09)
Alaska to recognize tribal
domestic violence protection orders (07/31)
Congress fails to provide
funds to help tribes comply with VAWA (07/29)
Ambassador Harper discusses
violence against indigenous women (07/09)
Native Sun News: Oglala
leader blames deaths on domestic violence (07/06)
Appropriations bill adds $10M
for tribal courts in PL280 states (07/01)
Eastern Cherokees assert
authority in all domestic violence cases (06/16)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate ready
to exercise VAWA jurisdiction (05/22)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe hosts Violence Against Women Act
Native Sun News: Tribes meet
to discuss VAWA implementation (04/10)
California Indian Legal
Services announces new VAWA project (04/06)
US Attorneys host tribes for
Violence Against Women Act session (04/02)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe prosecutes
19 non-Indian cases with VAWA (03/20)
LTBB News: Little Traverse
Bay Bands to exercise VAWA power (03/19)
Eastern Cherokees make
changes to exercise VAWA authority (03/18)
Tribes in Montana still
looking at jurisdiction provisions in VAWA (03/13)
Fort Peck Tribes ready to
exercise VAWA power over non-Indians (03/12)
White House Blog: Tribes make
communities safer with VAWA (03/11)
Tribes in pilot project filed
26 VAWA cases against non-Indians (03/10)
Tribes reach key milestone with jurisdiction
provisions of VAWA (3/9)
Updates from National
Congress of American Indians winter session (2/26)
Tribes in Maine face
opposition to jurisdiction over non-Indians (02/24)
Bill requires law degree to
join Navajo Nation Supreme Court (02/03)
Obama signs measure to extend
VAWA tribal provision to Alaska (12/19)
VAWA jurisdiction provision
poses special issue for Alaska tribes (12/15)
Congress clears bill to
extend VAWA tribal provisions to Alaska (12/12)
Senate backs measure to
extend VAWA tribal provisions to Alaska (12/09)
Vice President Biden calls
for inclusion of Alaska tribes in VAWA (12/04)
PBS: VAWA helps tribes go
after non-Indian domestic offenders (11/24)
Republicans hold up action on
Alaska tribal jurisdiction measure (11/19)
Eric Holder: Responding to
sexual violence in Indian Country (11/18)
DOJ task force calls for
tribal jurisdiction in child abuse cases (11/18)
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