WASHINGTON - U.S. Associate Attorney General Kevin J. O’Connor today announced more than $50 million in additional grant funds from the Justice Department to help tribal communities, bringing the total to nearly $100 million awarded to tribal communities in 2008. These awards include funds for tribal courts assistance, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, juvenile and mental health programs, victim assistance, and developing responses to violent crimes against Indian women. O’Connor made the announcement in remarks to the Four Corners Indian Country Conference in Albuqurque, N.M.
“This investment will help tribes develop criminal justice strategies that meet their needs,” said Associate Attorney General O’Connor. “Tribes face unique challenges that require unique solutions. We are committed to working in partnership with tribes to improve public safety.”
More than $38 million of the funding announced today was awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) through the Tribal Governments Programs, Tribal Coalitions Program, Legal Assistance for Victims Program, Rural Domestic Violence Program, Grants to Encourage Arrests Program, Safe Havens Program, Transitional Housing Program, and Civil Legal Assistance Program. Funding includes support to enhance the response to violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women at the tribal, federal and state levels. These grants also fund the coordination of services to victims and development of education and prevention strategies.
The new funding also includes more than $8 million awarded through the Tribal Youth Program, which helps tribal communities prevent juvenile delinquency, reduce violent crime, and improve tribal juvenile justice systems.
Additional funding announced today includes:
Previously announced funding to tribal initiatives in 2008 includes:
In addition to funding, the Department has provided a comprehensive range of technical assistance and support to Indian Country in 2008. In July, SMART hosted its second annual National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability in Baltimore. The symposium brought together lawmakers, state, local and tribal government officials; law enforcement; and frontline professionals who manage sex offenders. Scholarship funding was available to tribes that elected to implement their own sex offender notification and registration systems and wanted to attend the conference. The conference included special tracks related specifically to sex offender management in Indian Country and tribal governments.
In August, the Department’s newly created Violence Against Women in Indian Country Task Force convened for the first time in Washington, D.C. The task force, composed of members of national tribal domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, tribal governments, and national tribal organizations, are assisting the National Institute of Justice andthe Office on Violence Against Women in developing and implementing a program of research on violence against Indian women, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking and murder. The program will evaluate the effectiveness of the federal, state, and tribal response to this violence.
Last year, ten tribal sites were selected to serve as pilot communities as part of the Department's AMBER Alert in Indian Country Initiative. The ten tribal sites serve as regional programs across the country. The Department continues to work with tribal nations to develop their own plans tailored to their specific needs so that children in Indian country may benefit from AMBER Alert.
This year the Department continued its series of consultation, training and technical assistance sessions, focusing on tribal priority issues related to public safety for families and communities. Aimed at improving law enforcement and criminal justice in Indian country, the sessions targeted issues such as tribal court systems, multi-jurisdictional coordination and communication, sexual offender registry, and other law enforcement areas.
Total funding amounts and a full list of awardees are available at the Tribal Justice and Safety Web site, http://www.usdoj.gov/tribaljusticeandsafety.