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U.S. Attorney joins conference on Native American issues

U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan will join other Department of Justice leaders and U.S. Attorneys from the Pacific Northwest for a conference devoted to Native American Issues.

The U.S. Attorneys from the Attorney General’s Advisory Council (AGAC) Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS) will meet in Hood River, Oregon next week, Sept. 17-19, 2013. Washington State Tribal leaders will meet with DOJ leaders to discuss strengthening offender reentry efforts, white collar crime, juvenile justice issues, defending Indian hunting and fishing rights, and support for the implementation of the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA 2013).

“With twenty-five recognized Tribes in the Western District of Washington, the safety and security of our Native Communities is one of our top priorities,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “These meetings with Tribal leaders can help tailor federal programs to meet the diverse needs of our Tribal partners – from large urban reservations to smaller rural tribes.  I look forward to the opportunity to work on these issues with other U.S. Attorneys and Tribal leaders.”
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, Oregon.
“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.
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 Fiscal Year 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 nearly 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.
Read more about the Justice Department’s efforts to support implementation of VAWA 2013: http://www.justice.gov/tribal/vawa-tribal.html

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