In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder made it a Department of Justice priority to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in Indian Country. Beginning with a Tribal Nations Listening Tour in October 2009, Attorney General Holder and other Department officials met with tribal leaders to engage in a dialogue on public safety and law enforcement issues critical to tribal communities.
The Justice officials heard from tribal leaders about the pressing need for federal legislation and financial resources to help tribal public safety officials better address the problems facing their communities. They learned about the disproportionate rates of violence and victimization in tribal communities , and about the need to improve government-to-government collaboration and provide improved access to law enforcement and justice resources. Finally, Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department brought this message to Capitol Hill and worked in concert with members of the House and Senate to pass the Tribal Law and Order Act. President Obama signed the Act into law on July 29, 2010.
The Tribal Law & Order Act helps to address crime in tribal communities and places a strong emphasis on decreasing violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women. The Act encourages the hiring of more law enforcement officers for Indian lands and provides additional tools to address critical public safety needs. Specifically, the law enhances tribes' authority to prosecute and punish criminals; expands efforts to recruit, train and keep Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Tribal police officers; and provides BIA and Tribal police officers with greater access to criminal information sharing databases. It authorizes new guidelines for handling sexual assault and domestic violence crimes, from training for law enforcement and court officers, to boosting conviction rates through better evidence collection, to providing better and more comprehensive services to victims. It also encourages development of more effective prevention programs to combat alcohol and drug abuse among at-risk youth.
“With the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act, we are witnessing tangible progress toward a healthier, brighter future for Native Americans. I want to reaffirm the Justice Department's commitment – and my own commitment – to building and sustaining healthy and safe tribal communities; to renewing our nation's enduring promise to American Indians and Alaska Natives; to respecting the sovereignty and self-determination of tribal governments; and to ensuring that the progress we have achieved in recent years is not derailed.” – Attorney General Eric Holder
Below are links to the text of the Tribal Law and Order Act; documents to enhance understanding of its provisions; and some of the reports and action items which have been created in accord with provisions and directives in the Act.
U.S. Department of Justice Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions
Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Memorandum of Agreement, August 2011 (PDF)
The Tribal Law and Order Act Plan Long Term Plan to Build and Enhance Tribal Justice Systems, August 2011 (PDF)
Full Text of the Tribal Law and Order Act (PDF)
United States Attorney Tribal Law and Order Act Directives (PDF)
Bureau of Prisons Implements Key Provision of Tribal Law and Order Act with Pilot Program to Incarcerate Tribal Prisoners in Federal Prisons
COPS Office Report to Congress, January 2011 (PDF)
BJS Compendium of Tribal Crime Data, June 2011 (PDF)