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NPR: Bill seeks to improve Indian law and order
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Filed Under: Law | Politics

"Native American women are far more likely to be raped than other women — and tribal officials say many incidents on reservations across the country go unreported and uninvestigated, NPR's Laura Sullivan reported a year ago on All Things Considered.

The Justice Department estimates that 1 in 3 Native American women will be raped in her lifetime, and most victims who do report their assaults describe their attackers as non-Native. Legally, tribal authorities can do little to stop them. Chickasaw Tribal Police Chief Jason O'Neal told NPR in 2007 that "many of the criminals know Indian lands are almost a lawless community that they can do whatever they want."

For the past year, the Senate has held hearings on reservations nationwide on how to stop the assaults. The resulting legislation, called the Tribal Law and Order Act, was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, who is chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Dorgan's bill has three primary goals. First, it would make it easier for tribal police like O'Neal to arrest non-Indians who commit federal crimes on tribal lands, including sexual assault. Second, it would increase the sentencing power of tribal courts by allowing them to put convicted tribal members behind bars for three years instead of one — and even send them to federal prison. Third, the bill would increase accountability for U.S. attorneys by requiring them to keep a record of every case on tribal lands they decline to prosecute."

Get the Story:
Bill Bolsters Tribal Power To Prosecute Rape Cases (National Public Radio 7/23)
Solutions sought for crime on reservations (The Great Falls Tribune 7/24)
Senators push Indian crime bill (AP 7/24)
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Related Stories:
Senators to unveil law and order reform bill (7/23)
Senate Indian Affairs hearing on tribal courts (7/18)
Sen. Dorgan to introduce law enforcement act (7/17)
Senate Indian Affairs hearing on Adam Walsh Act (7/17)
Indian crime studies disputed by Republican official (7/16)
Column: Sen. Thune takes on law enforcement issues (7/10)
Ex-BIA official cites need for law enforcement (6/24)
Federal prosecutor defends efforts at DOJ (6/20)
Senate panel tackles crime issues in Indian Country (6/20)
Indian Affairs Committee takes up law bill (6/16)
Sen. Dorgan plans subpoena over BIA jail report (6/5)
Sen. Dorgan plans bill to address Indian Country crime (11/20)



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