Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction Reimbursement Program
The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) published a regulation on April 11, 2023, governing the Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction (STCJ) Reimbursement Program, a new program authorized under the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022) to reimburse Tribal governments for expenses incurred in exercising STCJ over non-Native individuals who commit certain covered crimes on tribal lands.
You can review the rule and submit comments no later than June 12, 2023. This regulation is an interim final rule, which means that it takes effect on the day of publication. OVW will take into consideration the comments received during the 60-day comment period as well as tribes’ reaction to the implementation of the first year of the program before issuing a final rule.
You can also watch a webinar that OVW conducted to provide detail about the reimbursement program.
How Do I Submit a Comment?
You can use the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) to submit a comment electronically. Comments are accepted until 11:59 p.m. ET on June 12, 2023.
Or, you can mail a comment to OVW. Comments will be considered timely if they are postmarked on or before June 12, 2023. Mail your comments to:
Office on Violence Against Women
U.S. Department of Justice
145 N Street NE, Suite 10W.100
Washington, DC 20530
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) included a historic provision that recognized the inherent authority of “participating Tribes” to exercise “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” (SDVCJ) over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders in Indian country. This provision enabled Tribes to exercise criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders for the first time since the Supreme Court’s 1978 decision in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, which held that, absent express Congressional authorization, Tribes lack jurisdiction over all crimes committed by non-Indians. The Act also specified the rights that a participating Tribe must provide to defendants in SDVCJ cases.
In 2022, Congress amended this provision to recognize “special Tribal criminal jurisdiction” (STCJ) over an expanded list of “covered crimes” that includes, in addition to the VAWA 2013 crimes, assault of Tribal justice personnel, child violence, obstruction of justice, sexual violence, sex trafficking, and stalking. This expanded recognition of Tribal sovereignty was enacted by the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022), signed into law by President Biden on March 15, 2022. VAWA 2022 also specifically refers to participating Tribes as including those in the state of Maine and establishes a pilot program under which the Attorney General is to designate up to five Alaska Tribes per calendar year as participating Tribes to exercise STCJ over all persons present in the Tribe’s Village.
- Assault of Tribal justice personnel
- Child violence
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
- Obstruction of justice
- Sexual violence
- Sex trafficking
- Criminal violations of protection orders
Federally recognized tribes that exercise STCJ are eligible for reimbursement funding under the STCJ Reimbursement Program for costs that are associated with exercising STCJ. For the 2023 fiscal year, the combined appropriation for this program and the STCJ Grant Program is $11 million. Of that amount, OVW may allocate up to $4.4 million for the STCJ Reimbursement Program. Examples of expenses for which tribes may receive reimbursement include:
- Law enforcement expenses
- Incarceration expenses
- Offender medical and dental expenses not otherwise covered by insurance
- Prosecution expenses
- Defense counsel expenses
- Court expenses
- Community supervision and re-entry expenses
During the first quarter of the 2024 fiscal year, OVW plans to post a Notice of Reimbursement Opportunity on www.justice.gov/ovw with instructions on how to apply for the maximum allowable reimbursement. Later in 2024, OVW plans to provide instructions on how to apply for waivers of the annual maximum.