Bill cuts funds to Alaska tribal justice systems
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The Senate Committee on Appropriations law week approved a bill that denies funding to Alaska Native tribal justice systems.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) inserted language in the committee report for the Department of Justice's spending bill. It states that "no funding" shall be given to any of Alaska's 227 tribes for "courts, police officers, and law enforcement equipment." Instead, the report says the money should go to the state of Alaska for the Village Public Safety Officer Program.

"It's very much an attack on the tribal community. The tribal community is in shock," Heather Kendall-Miller, a Native American Rights Fund attorney, told The Anchorage Daily News.

Stevens believes a more efficient method of distributing federal funds to Alaska Natives needs to be developed. He has supported consolidation but tribal leaders are opposing it.

The report language reads:
The Committee notes that the Department of Justice and other Federal agencies have provided grants to tribes in Alaska for courts, police officers, and law enforcement equipment. Because the previous administration recognized 227 separate tribes in Alaska, there are not sufficient funds for each tribe to have its own court system and police force. Therefore, the Committee has included a general provision in the bill clarifying that funds should not be made available to tribes in Alaska for courts or police until a more efficient delivery system can be developed such as consolidation. However, to ensure that judicial services continue in Alaska Native villages, the funds that have previously been granted to tribes will now be allocated to the State of Alaska to increase magistrates and fund the Village Public Safety Officer Program until such system can be developed.

Get the Story:
Tribal courts, officers get no funding in bill (The Anchorage Daily News 9/10)

Get the Bill:
S.1585 | Committee Report

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