Luján introduces legislation to strengthen tribal protections for children and law enforcement under VAWA reauthorization

News from the US SENATE:

WASHINGTON, DC – US Senator Ben Ray Luján (DN.M.), introduced the Indigenous Youth and Tribal Agent Protection Act, to strengthen tribal protections for children and tribal law enforcement in building on expansions of tribal authority under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2013.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2013 (VAWA 2013) authorized tribes to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction (SDVCJ) to arrest, prosecute and detain non-Indians for domestic violence, violence in dating and violations of protection orders if certain conditions are met.

Despite these advances in VAWA 2013, tribes express their continued frustration with their inability to prosecute attempts, threats or violence against children or tribal law enforcement when crimes are associated with domestic violence offenses. In addition, additional funding is needed for tribes to exercise SDVCJ and for more tribes to participate in the Department of Justice program.

The Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act fills these gaps by clarifying definitions to ensure that tribes can prosecute attempts, threats or violence against children or law enforcement in domestic violence incidents. The law also authorizes increased funding of $ 15 million per year to support this effort. Under the bill, tribes can also be reimbursed for costs incurred in implementing this special criminal jurisdiction.

“Protecting children must be our country’s top priority,” said Senator Luján. “This is why I am proud to introduce the Indigenous Youth and Tribal Agent Protection Act to strengthen protections for children and tribal law enforcement officials who are also exposed to violence in conjunction with domestic violence.” . This legislation would address existing loopholes in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2013 by including attempted or threatened acts of violence against children and tribal law enforcement, and increasing funding for ensure that tribes have sufficient resources to exercise their extended authority under the SDVCJ program. The safety of our children, involved law enforcement and criminal justice personnel should never be in question, and I am pleased that this legislation provides the clarity and support that tribes need to ensure the safety of their peoples. communities.

Senator Smith said, “Violence against Indigenous youth and tribal law enforcement officials is unacceptable in any form. This bill is an important step towards justice for victims. It is essential that the Senate re-authorize VAWA with strong tribal title, including the Indigenous Youth and Tribal Agent Protection Act. Indigenous communities in Minnesota and across the country can’t wait any longer. “

Governor Chavarria de Santa Clara Pueblo said, “Protecting our children is our most sacred duty, as is protecting the brave officers who respond to domestic violence calls to protect them and their family members. Senator Luján’s Indigenous and Tribal Youth Protection Act expands the ability of tribes under the Violence Against Women Act to protect both our children and our tribal police in the event of domestic violence. This legislation will not only help improve the well-being of children by reducing child abuse linked to domestic violence, it will also protect the well-being of our committed law enforcement teams, helping our courts to ensure safety. of every member of our community.

The full text of the legislation is available here.

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