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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 13, 2013

Attorney General’s Native American Issues Subcommittee To Meet In Oregon

VAWA 2013 Implementation, Offender Reentry, White Collar Crime, Juvenile Justice
Among Agenda Items

BOISE — U.S. Attorneys from the Attorney General’s Advisory Council (AGAC) Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS) will meet in Hood River, Ore., next week, Sept. 17-19, 2013. On the agenda are, among other items, efforts to strengthen offender reentry efforts in Indian country, to address juvenile justice and the effects of exposure to violence on American Indian and Alaska Native youth, to defend Indian hunting and fishing rights, to clarify jurisdictional issues on the Columbia River, and to support implementation of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013).

On Sept. 18, U.S. Associate Attorney General Tony West and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Karol Mason will join the U.S. Attorneys for a special joint session with tribal leaders from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to be held in Celilo Village, Ore.

“While we are mindful of the great progress that is being made by U.S. Attorneys and tribal justice systems across Indian country, I look forward to exploring with the NAIS and tribal leaders ways that we can strengthen our government-to-government relationships even more, work ever closer with tribal nations, and advance our shared goal of building safe, sustainable, and healthy communities,” said Associate Attorney General West.

“The meeting at Hood River and Celilo Village provides an important opportunity for United States Attorneys, Department of Justice officials and federal agencies with Indian country responsibility to consult with Northwest tribal leaders on a wide range of issues critical to public safety in Indian country,” said Wendy J. Olson, U.S. Attorney for Idaho. “I am pleased that the meeting is taking place at a site of great cultural and historical importance to the Columbia River Tribes, including the Nez Perce.”

Thirty U.S. Attorneys from districts with Indian country or one or more federally recognized tribes serve on the NAIS. The NAIS focuses exclusively on Indian country issues, both criminal and civil, and is responsible for making policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding public safety and legal issues.

VAWA 2013 was signed into law by President Obama on March 7, 2013. This law contains provisions that significantly improve the safety of native women and allow federal and tribal law enforcement agencies to hold more perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their crimes. Many of these critical provisions were drawn from the U.S. Department of Justice’s July 2011 proposal for legislation to combat violence against native women. The department is exploring with tribal leaders how the department can help support the new law’s implementation. This law generally takes effect on March 7, 2015, but also authorizes a voluntary pilot project to allow certain tribes to begin prosecuting additional cases sooner.

In June 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder launched a department-wide initiative to enhance public safety in Indian country. Significant progress has been made since then, and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices with Indian country jurisdiction have had a major role in this success.

In May 2013, the Justice Department released its first report to Congress, required under the Tribal Law and Order Act, entitled Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions (ICIP). The ICIP report, based on data compiled from the case management system used by U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAOs) with Indian country jurisdiction, shows among other things a 54 percent increase in Indian country criminal prosecutions since 2009.

The information contained in the report shows, among other things, the following:

  • The Justice Department’s prioritization of Indian country crime has resulted in a notable increase in commitment to overall law enforcement efforts in Indian country. Caseloads have increased overall from 1,091 cases filed in fiscal year (FY) 2009 to 1,138 in FY 2010 to 1,547 in FY 2011 to 1,677 in FY 2012. This represents a 54 percent increase in the Indian country crime caseload.
  • The report shows a new era of partnership between the federal government and American Indian tribes, including an unprecedented level of collaboration with tribal law enforcement. The increase in collaboration and communication strengthens the bond of trust between federal and tribal investigators, prosecutors and other personnel in both federal and tribal criminal justice systems. As a result, tribal communities will be safer places to live, work, and raise families.

In the District of Idaho, prosecutions in Indian country have increased over the last four years. In fiscal year 2013, the U.S. Attorney's Office increased its Indian Country cases filed by 22 percent over fiscal year 2012. In addition, the U.S. Attorney's Office has worked closely with tribal law enforcement to provide training to tribal officers throughout Idaho.

Read more about the Justice Department’s efforts to support implementation of VAWA 2013: http://www.justice.gov/tribal/vawa-tribal.html.

Read the entire ICIP report at www.justice.gov/tribal/tloa-report-cy-2011-2012.pdf.

Read about the Justice Department’s efforts to increase public safety in Indian County at www.justice.gov/tribal/accomplishments.html.