On September 22, 2011, the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing, “Tribal Law and Order Act One Year Later: Have We Improved Public Safety and Justice Throughout Indian Country?” While much promise was tied to the Tribal Law and Order Act, it appears that few meaningful changes have been implemented. Most notably, no tribe is exercising enhanced sentencing authority under the Act. While some tribes are interested, the costs associated with exercising this authority requires careful planning in the absence of increased funding to support these efforts.
Violence against Native women has now reached epidemic levels. One in three Native women is raped in her lifetime. Three in five experience domestic abuse. The truth of the matter is that few of these women will ever see their perpetrators brought to justice.
Visit www.indianlaw.org/safewomen for more information on the Center’s Safe Women, Strong Nations project, which works to prevent and combat violence against Native women by ensuring they receive equal access to justice. To read the full testimony of the witnesses at the hearing or to watch the hearing online, visit http://indian.senate.gov/.
Now is the time to seek changes that will improve the safety of Native communities, provide access to justice, and ensure that perpetrators of violence against Native women are brought to justice.