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Community Prosecution Strategy Overview

 The USAO's Community Prosecution Strategy is an operational plan for improving public safety in South Dakota's tribal communities.  The USAO has a successful history of achieving tangible results in its Indian country prosecutions and bringing hope to victims - some of whom are among the most vulnerable members of our society.

These efforts have received renewed national prominence through the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and an ongoing Department of Justice-wide initiative designed to bring greater safety to Indian country.  This Indian Country Initiative also seeks to place greater emphasis upon addressing violence against women and children in tribal communities.  More recently, Congress passed the 2013 Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.  Notably, this legislation recognized Tribes’ inherent right to prosecute non-Indians for acts of domestic violence committed against Native Americans within their borders.  Currently, two tribes (Standing Rock and Sisseton) are exercising this enhanced jurisdiction.

However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to public safety in Indian country.  Our Community Prosecution Strategy is designed to be flexible and reflect the unique characteristics of the District, the USAO, and each of the federally recognized tribes within the District.  It is intended to focus on the particular needs of the communities we serve and implement the ideas and suggestions that have come directly from these communities.

The Community Prosecution Strategy is rooted in the "broken-windows" theory of law enforcement - maintaining communities in a well-ordered condition may prevent an escalation into more serious crime.  The strategy focuses on having at least one Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) assigned to each reservation, though in some instances multiple AUSAs will be assigned to fit the needs of the communities we serve.

These AUSAs work closely with tribal prosecutors and other members of the community to identify and address crime trends in that community.  The AUSAs also meet on a regular basis with all law enforcement partners in the community (including tribal prosecutors, tribal police, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation) to ensure cases are being identified, investigated, and prosecuted as well as to ensure cases are not slipping through jurisdictional cracks in the system.

Our program strengthens the relationship between federal and tribal prosecutors by appointing select tribal prosecutors to serve as Special Assistant United States Attorneys.  When directed to do so by the tribe, these prosecutors can prosecute cases shoulder-to-shoulder with federal prosecutors in federal court.  As part of this strategy, the USAO explores additional training and cooperative opportunities for South Dakota's tribal prosecutors whenever available.  The USAO also makes its technology professionals available to tribal court systems so that existing technology can be reviewed and recommendations made for improvements in technological infrastructure.  This includes structural and management audits when sought.  


Updated October 3, 2022