The Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act 2019 (HR 1585) passed the House of Representatives on April 4, 2019 with bipartisan support. The bill now moves for consideration in the U.S. Senate.
Critically, this new version of the law would not only reaffirm the tribal provisions found in VAWA 2013, but would expand the list of crimes that tribes are able to prosecute to include sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking and assault of law enforcement or corrections officers. The draft bill also explicitly recognizes the specific jurisdictional complexities that Alaska Native Villages face due to the fact that the Native land in Alaska is not generally defined as “Indian country” under current federal law, a term used to define the geographic areas where tribes are able to exercise jurisdiction. To begin addressing this issue, the bill would establish a pilot project to allow up to five tribes in Alaska to exercise criminal jurisdiction in the same way that the law allows tribes in the Lower 48.
For more information about the urgent need for provisions to address the extreme rates of violence against Alaska Native women, please visit the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center at http://www.aknwrc.org/reauthorization-of-vawa-house-bill-1585-introduced/.
The full text of the current bill is available at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1585/text.