United Tribes NewsWitness to history
STUDENT AT SIGNING CEREMONY
By Betty Anhorn, Center for Academic & Personal Counseling
29 September 2010
BISMARCK (UTN) - Dedication and hard work paid off big time this summer for United Tribes Criminal Justice student Renee Walking Eagle-Thin Elk. Renee spent a good share of the summer in Washington, DC on an internship through American University.
The highlight of the summer was an unscheduled visit to the White House.
Renee was one of four interns selected, out of 97 in the program, to attend a formal signing ceremony by President Obama of the Tribal Law and Order Act.
She was so excited! It was a huge event when it took place on July 29.
United Tribes is so proud that Renee finished her internship with a world class event that carried such importance for Indian Country.
Congratulations Renee for representing us so well!
MAJOR PROVISIONS OF THE TRIBAL LAW & ORDER ACT
Evidence Sharing & Declinations: Federal officials have declined to prosecute more than 50 percent of violent crimes in Indian country, and a higher rate of sexual assaults. The law requires DOJ to maintain data on criminal declinations and share evidence with tribal justice officials when a case is declined.
Tribal Court Sentencing: Federal law limits tribal court authority to sentence offenders to no more than one year in prison, which limits their ability to provide justice to the victims and the tribal community. The law establishes an option for tribes to increase sentencing authority for up to three years where a tribe provides added protections to defendants.
Deputizing: The complex jurisdictional arrangement in Indian Country prevents tribal police from arresting offenders, even when a crime is committed in plain view. The law enhances the Special Law Enforcement Commission program, to deputize tribal police officers to enforce federal laws on Indian lands against all offenders.
Access to Criminal History Records: Many tribal police have no access to criminal history records. As a result, when pulling over a suspect, the officer has no background on the person who is detained. The law provides tribal police greater access to criminal history databases such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Domestic and Sexual Violence: The law requires tribal and federal officers serving Indian country to receive specialized training to interview victims of sexual assault and collect crime scene evidence. It also requires IHS facilities to implement consistent sexual assault protocols, and requires federal officials to provide documents and testimony gained in the course of their federal duties to aid in prosecutions before tribal courts.Strengthen Programs: The law reauthorizes and improves programs designed to strengthen tribal court systems, tribal police departments, and tribal corrections programs. It also updates laws to address high rates of alcohol and substance abuse, and programs to improve opportunities for at risk youth on Indian lands.