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TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS ABLE TO TAKE CRIMINAL ACTION AGAINST NON-INDIANS

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ROSEBUD — As of March 7, tribal government may begin exercising jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, or violate a protection order against an Indian victim on tribal lands.

“This is a major step forward to protect the safety of native people, and we thank all members of Congress for passing the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, and recognizing tribal authority,” said Brian Cladoosby, president of NCAI.

So far, only three tribes have actively started exercising jurisdiction over non-Indians under a pilot project since Feb. 6, 2014. To date, tribes have charged a total of 26 criminal jurisdiction cases.

“I want to encourage all tribal governments to get this law on their books,” said Juana Majel, chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women. “The main goal is deterrence of domestic violence. On most reservations there are a handful of bad actors who have figured out how to slip between jurisdictional boundaries. They need to get the message. If they continue to assault our women we will prosecute and put them in jail.”

Violence against Native women has reached epidemic proportions. The root cause is a justice system that forced tribal governments to rely on distant federal officials to investigate and prosecute misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence committed by non-Indians against Indian women.

Using outside law enforcement has proven ineffective for most misdemeanor level reservation-based domestic violence cases. The Justice Department has found that when non-Indian cases of domestic violence go uninvestigated and unpunished, offenders’ violence escalates. The 2013 VAWA Reauthorization authorizes tribal governments to investigate and prosecute all crimes of domestic and dating violence regardless of the race of the offender.

Tribes choosing to exercise jurisdiction must provide non-Indian defendants the same rights guaranteed in state court. This includes appointing attorneys for indigent defendants and a jury drawn from the entire reservation community.

 

Key Statistics:

61% of American Indian and Alaska Native women (or 3 out of 5) have been assaulted in their lifetimes

34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes

39% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be subjected to violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes

59% of assaults against Native women occur at or near a private residence

59% of American Indian women in 2010 were married to non-Native men

46% of people living on reservations in 2010 were non-Natives (single race)

US Attorneys declined to prosecute 52% of violent crimes; 67% of cases declined were sexual abuse cases

Indian women murdered at more than ten times the national average.

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