Law | National

DOJ releases report on declination rates for Indian Country

The Department of Justice released its first Indian Country declination report today.

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 requires DOJ to provide data on the number of cases that were declined for prosecution. Federal prosecutors declined 37 percent of cases in 2011 and 31 percent in 2012, the first report said.

The rates for these two years show a marked improvement in the declination rate since the start of the Obama administration. A 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office found that federal prosecutors turned down about 50 percent of cases between 2005 and 2009.

“Across the country, U.S. Attorneys have been focused on fighting crime in Indian Country and reinforcing the bond between federal and tribal law enforcement, which also strengthens the faith that people have in their criminal justice system,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press release. “This report on federal law enforcement efforts in Indian Country is beginning to show the fruits of this labor with an increase in Indian Country cases prosecuted in federal courts over the past three years, but we have more work to do. The department will continue in its commitment to working with our tribal partners to build safe, sustainable, and healthy communities in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.”

According to the report, the most common reason for declining prosecution was insufficient evidence. In 2011, 61 percent of cases were turned for this reason. In 2012, 52 percent were turned down.

The second most common reason was referral to another prosecuting authority, such as a tribal government. In 2011, 19 percent of case were declined for this reason. In 2012, 24 percent were declined.

Get the Story:
Report shows federal prosecutors tackling more criminal cases in Indian Country (AP 5/29)

Department of Justice Report:
u.s. Department of Justice Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions 2011-2012 (May 2013)

Government Accountability Office Report "U.S. Department of Justice Declinations of Indian Country Criminal Matters":
Summary | Full Report

Related Stories:
Declination rate remains high for crimes in Indian Country (2/21)
GAO report confirms big declination rate in Indian Country cases (12/14)