WASHINGTON – Two key announcements came at the close of last week in Washington as the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder shared news looking to help with Indian country’s issues of violence.
Holder announced Friday, Jan. 21, the formation and inaugural meeting of the Violence Against Women Federal and Tribal Prosecution Task Force, fulfilling a pledge made at the department’s Tribal Nations Listening Session in October 2009.
United States Attorney Deborah Gilg of the District of Nebraska, six Assistant United States Attorneys working in Indian country, and six representatives from tribal governments comprise the Task Force.
“We know too well that tribal communities face unique law enforcement challenges and are struggling to reverse unacceptable rates of violence against women and children,” said Holder. “… I believe it is a critical step in our work to improve public safety and strengthen coordination and collaboration concerning prosecution strategies with tribal communities.”
Within a year of convening, the Task Force is directed to produce a trial practice manual on the federal prosecution of violence against women offenses in Indian country. In the short term, the Task Force will explore current issues raised by professionals in the field, and recommend “best practices” in prosecution strategies involving domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The DOJ also announced it is accepting applications from American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities for funding to improve public safety in Indian country.
The funds are available through the Fiscal Year 2011 Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, a streamlined single solicitation for existing tribal government-specific grant programs administered by the Office of Justice Programs, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Office on Violence Against Women.
The CTAS process is the result of consultations held with tribal leaders on how to improve the application process for tribal grant applicants.
Awards will be based upon available funding for FY 2011 and can be used to enhance law enforcement, bolster justice systems, prevent youth substance abuse, serve sexual assault and elder abuse victims, and support other efforts to combat crimes. Last year, CTAS provided more than $127 million to AI/AN tribal communities nationwide.
Additional resources and information, including a fact sheet and tips for pre-and post-application tasks are located on the website at www.tribaljusticeandsafety.gov/grants.html.
The announcements are part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.