The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 is a law, signed into effect by President Obama, that expands the punitive abilities of tribal courts across the nation. The law allows tribal courts operating in Indian country to increase jail sentences handed down in criminal cases. This was a major step toward improving enforcement and justice in Indian country.
Before this law, tribal courts were limited in the scope of punishment they could hand down in criminal cases, giving them the impression of a lower, less serious court. They now possess the power under the Tribal Law and Order Act to pass increased sentences in order to incarcerate defendants longer.
The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010: A Step Forward for Native Women
July 29, 2010 by Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women
The President just signed the Tribal Law and Order Act — an important step to help the Federal Government better address the unique public safety challenges that confront tribal communities.
According to a Department of Justice report, Native American women suffer from violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average. Astoundingly, one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes. At the White House Tribal Nations Conference in November 2009, President Obama stated that this shocking figure “is an assault on our national conscience that we can no longer ignore.”
Last week, Congress took another important step to improve the lives of Native American women by passing the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The Act includes a strong emphasis on decreasing violence against women in Native communities, and is one of many steps this Administration strongly supports to address the challenges faced by Native women.
The stipulations in the Act that will benefit Native women reflect several Administration priorities. The Act will strengthen tribal law enforcement and the ability to prosecute and fight crime more effectively. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act will require that a standardized set of practices be put in place for victims of sexual assault in health facilities. Now, more women will get the care they need, both for healing and to aid in the prosecution of their perpetrators.
July 29, 2010
Remarks by the President Before Signing the Tribal Law and Order Act
4:58 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat.
I want to start, obviously, by thanking Lisa for her introduction and having the courage to share her story with all of us today. It’s for every survivor like Lisa who has never gotten their day in court, and for every family that feels like justice is beyond reach, and for every tribal community struggling to keep its people safe, that I’ll be signing the Tribal Law and Order Act into law today.
And in doing so, I intend to send a clear message that all of our people — whether they live in our biggest cities or our most remote reservations — have the right to feel safe in their own communities, and to raise their children in peace, and enjoy the fullest protection of our laws.
As many of you know, I campaigned on this issue. And during our last — during our tribal conference last year, I pledged my administration’s fullest support for this bill. And I told Senator Dorgan last week that I intended to sign it in a ceremony here at the White House with all of you. So today, I am proud to make good on my word.
Now, I’m told there’s a Seneca proverb that says “He who would do great things should not attempt them all alone.” (Laughter.) And that’s particularly true of this legislation, which is the product of tireless efforts by countless individuals across this country. Congressional leaders like Senator Dorgan, Representative Herseth Sandlin, and others who are here today, and tribal leaders like Chairman Marcus Levings, President Theresa Two Bulls, President Diane Enos, Chief Chad Smith, Vice Chairman Jonathan Windy Boy — we are grateful to all of them for their extraordinary support. And then we’ve got leaders in our administration like Attorney General Holder and Secretary Salazar, Kimberly Teehee, Jodi Gillette here at the White House who work tirelessly on this legislation.
And that’s nothing to say of all the dedicated judges and prosecutors and tribal and BIA law enforcement officers — some of whom are here today — who’ve supported these efforts. And the determined survivors most of all, like Lisa, who even when it’s too late to undo what happened to them, still speak out to seek justice for others.
All of you come at this from different angles, but you’re united in support of this bill because you believe, like I do, that it is unconscionable that crime rates in Indian Country are more than twice the national average and up to 20 times the national average on some reservations. And all of you believe, like I do, that when one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes, that is an assault on our national conscience; it is an affront to our shared humanity; it is something that we cannot allow to continue.
Tribe passes enhanced sentencing law
Cherokee recently passed legislation during the August Session of Tribal Council which updated the Cherokee Criminal Code and finalized the full implementation of the enhanced sentencing authority granted by the federal Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. Cherokee Ordinance Number 182 was passed by Tribal Council on Aug. 2 and ratified by Principal Chief Michell Hicks on Aug. 16. The Ordinance increased the maximum possible punishment of all felony-equivalent tribal crimes from one year to three years imprisonment and from a $5,000 to a $15,000 fine.
The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 granted enhanced, felony-level sentencing authority to tribal courts by increasing the maximum possible punishment that a tribal court may hand down from one year of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine per offense to three years of imprisonment and a $15,000 fine per offense, with a provision for stacking up to three offenses in certain criminal cases which could result in a maximum possible punishment of nine years of imprisonment (25 U.S.C. § 1302). Before tribes can enact legislation to implement this enhanced punishment, the federal law requires that the tribal courts have law-trained judges, provide defendants with the right to effective assistance of counsel and indigent defendants with court appointed counsel, and make the tribal laws publically available, among other things. The Cherokee Court has met all of these requirements, even for many years prior to the enactment of the Tribal Law and Order Act.
For more: http://www.webcitation.org/6FmBkL7iB