Addressing Crime and Justice for American Indians and Alaska Natives

BJA works with tribes to provide leadership, management, training and technical assistance (TTA), and quality services in grant administration and policy development. The tribal programs administered by BJA help these communities prevent and control crime, violence, and substance abuse. These programs also improve the functioning of criminal justice systems in tribal communities and in collaboration with neighboring state, tribal, and local jurisdictions.

Tribal Law and Order Act Implementation

Signed into law in July 2010, the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA, Public Law 111–211) provides legislative authorities and resources to tribal communities across the United States to enhance their tribal justice systems. Additionally, TLOA authorizes expanded sentencing authority for tribal justice systems, clarifies jurisdiction in Public Law 83–280 (commonly referred to as PL280) states, requires enhanced information sharing, authorizes liaisons within each U.S. Attorney’s Office, and encourages more intergovernmental collaboration among tribal, federal, state, and local governments. More specifically, TLOA created authorities for BJA to enhance its services to the field.

In FY 2011, BJA carefully reviewed the legislation to ensure that its programs reflected the new flexibilities for its programs and to develop new strategies and clear language in BJA solicitations that will support tribes seeking to exercise new tools under TLOA. These efforts were completed in consultation with tribal leaders during consultations hosted with DOJ in May 2011 and December 2011. The most critical project completed in 2011 was the Tribal Justice Plan, which responds to sections 211, 241, and 244 of TLOA.

Tribal Justice Plan

Beginning in February 2011, BJA coordinated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reach out to tribal leaders, tribal justice professionals,1 and other federal agencies to develop the congressionally mandated Tribal Justice Plan. Although not within the scope of the original mandate, the plan also addresses the issue of reentry of tribal members from federal, state, and tribal prisons to the reservation. BJA and other DOJ components2 worked with several federal agencies from the Departments of the Interior, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture and the U.S. Courts’ Probation and Pretrial Services’ Indian Country Steering Committee to complete the plan. The plan was released to Congress on August 5, 2011.

Key themes of the Tribal Justice Plan, which reflect the input from the consultations and public comment, include that it should be implemented in consultation and collaboration with tribal leaders, be flexible enough to allow tribes to develop strategies tailored to their specific public safety needs and tribal history and culture, and be coordinated with federal, tribal, state, and local government resources. Critical recommendations and action steps in the Tribal Justice Plan include the following:

In 2012, BJA will focus on implementing the Tribal Justice Plan.

Intergovernmental Collaboration

Section 222 of TLOA directs the U.S. Attorney General to provide technical assistance on strategies to promote intergovernmental collaboration among state, tribal, and local partners to develop successful cooperative relationships that effectively combat crime in Indian Country and nearby communities. As part of this effort, BJA continues to work with federal partners and other TTA partners such as the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), Center for Court Innovation, and the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) to offer assistance in these efforts.

Tribal-State Collaboration and Justice Capacity Building Project

Through BJA, DOJ is partnering with NCAI and NCJA to build tribal-state collaborative efforts. The goal of the Tribal–State Collaboration and Justice Capacity Building Project (Tribal–State Collaboration Project) is to increase the awareness among tribal and state government officials of the benefits of collaborative problem solving and planning and to replicate promising practices for improving public safety in tribal communities through tribal-state collaboration methods. Because of the complexity of federal American Indian law, including states where PL280 jurisdiction exists, it is important that tribal and state governments come together to promote information sharing and multijurisdictional cooperation.

The project’s initial outreach focused on Minnesota—a PL280 jurisdiction—and the tribes therein. This effort involved creating strategies and capacity-building efforts and compiling this material as the basis for a core curriculum that can be offered in all other PL280 jurisdictions. The training curriculum will help tribes to develop action plans in coordination with their local, state, and federal partners; provide information on and examples of promising practices in areas of interest specified by the participating tribes prior to the training; and offer access to an online, interactive toolkit with examples of promising practices and practical applications from other jurisdictions regarding justice issues in Indian Country.

The next step for the Tribal–State Collaboration Project is to focus on a non-PL280 jurisdiction to enhance cooperative relationships.

Walking on Common Ground Web Site

TLPI launched and continues to develop the Walking on Common Ground web site, which provides resources for promoting and facilitating tribal, state, and federal collaborations. The site includes an interactive, searchable map with links to cooperative agreements, tribal state forums, and relevant legislation.

Success Stories

Building Tribal-State Relationships in Minnesota to Address Public Safety
To develop the PL280 pilot training, two BJA TTA providers—the National Congress of American Indians and the National Criminal Justice Association—began by inviting tribal leaders and justice officials from every tribe in Minnesota, the State Administering Agency (SAA), and local justice practitioners. (The SAA helped the TTA providers identify appropriate justice officials, coordinate with the local U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), and work closely with the USAO Tribal Liaison). Several of the tribes completed pre-conference surveys in which they identified topics and issues they wanted on the agenda; the SAA also had the opportunity to complete a survey but deferred to the tribes’ input. Of the 11 tribes in Minnesota, 8 tribes plus the host tribe sent teams to the program. Of the approximately 50 participants, the largest teams were from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. Sheriffs and county attorneys serving counties in which these tribes are located also participated with the tribal teams and in the full training.

The training included educational sessions on criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country, important aspects of the Tribal Law and Order Act, and specific criminal issues (e.g., gangs and prescription drug abuse on tribal lands). Additionally, participants met in smaller groups that were broken out by practitioner area and by regional teams. Each breakout group engaged in facilitated action planning. Some recommended action items included:

  • Seeking legislation to recognize tribal police officers as state police officers.
  • Developing cross-deputization agreements or other mutual aid agreements, especially at the state level.
  • Establishing more interaction between the state agencies and tribes, rather than the typical interactions between local governments and tribes.
  • Expanding the quarterly Indian Country meetings hosted by the USAO to include more tribes, county attorneys, and sheriffs serving Indian Country, and to rotate the meeting location around the state.

Another result of the program is that the White Earth Nation plans to create a working group with its county attorneys and sheriffs to improve communication and begin addressing ongoing issues among the various parties.

Although the participants were very interested in doing the same type of conference within a year, much of the action planning was aimed at identifying solutions to immediately enhance communication and coordination at the tribal, state, and local levels, and with the Minnesota USAO.

Peacemaking Roundtable Discussion
In December 2011, BJA sponsored, in collaboration with the Center for Court Innovation, a national roundtable to discuss traditional American Indian peacemaking, document promising practices, and explore the possibility of introducing peacemaking in non-American Indian settings. Peacemaking is a traditional American Indian approach to justice that usually involves tribal “peacemakers” (often community elders) guiding discussion not only between the parties directly involved but also among family members, friends, and the general community.

Twelve practitioners and policymakers from both tribal and state courts participated in this roundtable, including peacemakers from six different tribal communities around the country, policymakers who have implemented various forms of peacemaking in non-tribal settings, and representatives of the New York State Unified Court System. A formal report summarizing the lessons learned in the roundtable will be available in 2012.

Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation

In FY 2011, DOJ continued its Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) initiative, which enables tribes to submit one single application for all DOJ tribal government-specific competitive solicitations. This approach provides federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia the opportunity to develop a comprehensive approach to public safety and victimization in tribal communities by responding to multiple “purpose areas.” The purpose areas included in the FY 2011 CTAS application include:

In FY 2011, 236 tribes submitted applications to enhance law enforcement, bolster justice systems, prevent youth substance abuse, serve sexual assault and elder victims, and support other efforts to combat crime. More than 283 grant awards were approved for funding, totaling $118,395,208.

In addition to these CTAS awards, BJA funded six Tribal Justice System Capacity Building TTA awards totaling $2,774,000. These awards were designed to fill identified gaps in the capacity of tribal justice systems to address issues of crime, violence, and substance abuse. Deliverables under these awards included Tribal Drug Courts TTA, a Tribal Probation Academy, and Tribal Justice System Strategic Planning. Resources support to CTAS grantees and non-CTAS tribes seeking assistance.

Develop and Enhance the Operation of Tribal Justice Systems

The Tribal Courts Assistance Program (TCAP) provides funding and TTA to federally recognized tribal governments to support tribal justice systems. TCAP enables tribes to develop, implement, and enhance court services and programs that meet the unique needs of tribal communities such as establishing a core structure for a tribal court; developing civil and criminal codes; enhancing prosecution and indigent defense; improving case management; funding and training essential court personnel such as judges, clerks, prosecutors, public defenders, and probation officers; conducting court assessment and strategic planning; supporting probation and alternative sentencing; and acquiring equipment and software to improve court capacity and efficiency through technology. TTA is available to grantee tribes and to tribes who currently do not have a BJA grant; this increases the reach of TCAP beyond those tribes that receive direct funding from BJA.

In FY 2011, BJA awarded 37 TCAP site-based grants totaling $15.6 million through CTAS, and 1 TCAP TTA award for $1.3 million.

In FY 2011, BJA funding enabled the University of North Dakota’s Tribal Judicial Institute (TJI) to conduct 28 TCAP training events for more than 1,640 individuals; TCAP funding also supported 16 onsite TTA visits to tribes and 106 scholarships that enabled BJA and non-BJA grantees to attend national TTA events. 

Also in FY 2011, BJA funding enabled the National Tribal Judicial Center at the National Judicial College (NTJC/NJC) to conduct 10 TCAP training events for more than 400 individuals; provide financial assistance in the form of travel/lodging/per diem assistance to 253 BJA grantees and non-grantees to attend NTJC and partner events; provide financial assistance to 58 judges and court personnel to attend NTJC and NJC courses that are tuition based; and provide financial assistance to 149 judges and court personnel to attend grant-funded courses or events.

Prevent and Reduce Alcohol- and Substance Abuse-Related Crimes

Initiated in 2001, the Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program (IASAP) helps federally recognized tribal governments to plan, implement, or enhance culturally appropriate strategies for addressing crime related to alcohol and substance abuse. Key objectives include preventing and reducing alcohol- and substance abuse-related crimes, traffic fatalities, and injuries; apprehending and prosecuting illegal drug and alcohol smugglers, dealers, and users; making culturally appropriate treatment readily available to tribal members; and increasing coordination to foster internal and external partnerships. IASAP helps tribes to identify the most pressing needs in their community and then develop and implement culturally appropriate and tailored solutions to preventing and reducing alcohol- and substance abuse-related crimes.

In FY 2011, BJA awarded 21 IASAP grants totaling $8,997,871 through CTAS, and 1 IASAP TTA award of $875,000.

Through the Fox Valley Technical College’s Criminal Justice Center for Innovation (FVTC/CJCI), BJA provided 26 training programs—including regional trainings and national conferences—for 1,033 individuals. IASAP funding also supported 25 TTA site visits and 185 scholarships to BJA grantees and tribes without funding that enabled tribal officials to attend national TTA events.

Plan, Renovate, or Construct Correctional and/or Correctional Alternative Facilities

The Correctional Systems and Correctional Alternatives on Tribal Lands (CSCATL) Program, formerly the Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands Program, provides funding for site-based and TTA projects. In FY 2011, through CTAS, BJA awarded 23 site-based grants totaling $8,256,640 for the planning, renovation, and construction of correctional and correctional alternative facilities to assist tribes with adult and juvenile detention and rehabilitative efforts. Additionally, BJA awarded an $850,000 cooperative agreement to the National Indian Justice Center to provide TTA to FY 2011 CSCATL grant recipients and non-grant recipients.

In 2011, BJA continued to partner with Justice Solutions Group to offer onsite and offsite TA to tribes receiving grants under this program, including onsite TA to 30 tribes and offsite TA to 11 tribes. In May and June 2011, Justice Solutions Group provided three 1-week workshops titled, “Planning Alternatives & Correctional Institutions for Indian Country,” for recipients of FY 2010 CSCATL planning grants; 13 tribes participated in these events. These workshops provide grant recipients with information on all aspects of assessing justice system operations, alternatives to incarceration and planning, and design and construction of new correctional facilities on tribal lands. Workshop instructors included architects and planners with expertise in justice system and facility planning; experts in pretrial services, community supervision, reentry, and traditional tribal sanctions; and representatives from various government and tribal-related agencies.

In November 2011, BJA and Justice Solutions Group partnered to develop and deliver a Tribal Jail Administrator’s Forum in collaboration with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services Detention Summit. The workshops provided training and working sessions focusing on the most important issues facing tribal jail administrators managing both adult and juvenile correctional and/or detention facilities in Indian Country.

BJA continues to provide technical assistance support to projects funded under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands Program. In FY 2011, as a result of ARRA funding, the Colorado River Indian Tribes completed major renovation of a temporary holding facility for juveniles, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe completed the construction of a juvenile and adult detention center. Additionally, two tribes that received non-ARRA Violent Crime and Control and Law Enforcement CSCATL funding completed construction projects: Lac du Flambeau completed the construction of a new multipurpose justice facility, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe completed the construction of a juvenile detention center.

BJA also provides guidance and technical support to ensure CSCATL grantees are in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In FY 2011, BJA identified and tracked 44 projects for NEPA compliance. Partnering with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, ICF International, and OJP’s Office of General Counsel, BJA issued 11 Categorical Exclusions and 11 final Findings of No Significant Impact statements for funded CSCATL projects totaling more than $166 million.

In addition, in FY 2011, BJA extended a logistical and support services contract with Alpha Corporation, who works with CSCATL grantees to ensure that projects are efficiently and effectively using cost and schedule strategies to achieve project goals. Alpha works with grantees to ensure that tribal projects are being constructed or renovated in accordance with applicable correctional facility standards, with emphasis on ensuring that tribal juvenile facilities adhere to the four core requirements of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act; that grantees who received ARRA funding are adhering to the act’s requirements; and that grantees are adhering to NEPA requirements. In FY 2011, Alpha provided logistical and support services to 44 CSCATL projects in 16 states, totaling $230 million in grant awards. Alpha completed 30 site visits and provided detailed site visit reports on project scope, design, construction schedule, and budget status as well as an in-depth analysis of the grantee’s ability to fulfill project goals. Alpha also assisted 22 grantees in obtaining NEPA clearance.

Tribal Probation Academy

BJA currently funds a 4-week Tribal Probation Academy (TPA) conducted through a partnership between the American Probation and Parole Association and FVTC/CJCI. Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska probation officers, upon completion of the 4-week TPA, returned to their community and conducted briefing sessions for their judges, prosecutor, and court administrator about how and why probation should promote community safety and effect offender change. As a result of this training, the Winnebago Tribe developed a partnership with law enforcement—a key component of the TPA philosophy—and the probation officers now have access to tribal government vehicles that enable them to conduct home visits and employment/school checks. They have also been equipped with law enforcement radios to help them stay in constant communication with law enforcement, which provides for greater levels of safety for the officer and community. The probation offices were also reconfigured to address safety and privacy concerns, and they no longer share space with other court staff. The Winnebago Tribe probation officers are now utilizing an assessment tool to better classify their offenders and create individualized supervision plans, and they are adapting technology shared with them at TPA (such as GPS tracking and home-based alcohol tests) to provide more effective monitoring, tracking, and detection of alcohol and drug use for their offender caseload. The experience at TPA and the changes ultimately implemented as a result of the training have renewed the excitement and enthusiasm of the tribe’s justice system employees for more comprehensive, collaborative tribal justice.

Success Story

Domestic Violence Court at Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
In 2011, the Menominee Indian Tribe initiated one of the first specialized domestic violence courts in Indian Country. After 18 months of planning, the court began to hear domestic violence cases, assembled a team of key stakeholders to assist in providing needed services to victims and offenders, and instituted a system of regular compliance monitoring consistent with domestic violence court best practices. Menominee officials attended several specialized trainings, some in conjunction with federal officials, regarding justice system responses to domestic violence. The tribe will continue to work with the Center for Court Innovation to enhance its approach to domestic violence cases and develop a community outreach approach to educate the community about domestic violence and the new domestic violence court.

Tribal Drug Courts

Through Title V of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Congress authorized the U.S. Attorney General to make grants to states, state courts, local courts, units of local government, and tribal governments for TTA and to establish drug courts for nonviolent substance-abusing offenders. The enactment of this legislation acknowledges the promise of drug courts to habilitate offenders, hold them accountable for their actions, and reduce victimization by intervening soon after arrest. Currently, there are more than 2,600 drug courts nationally, of which 72 are tribal drug courts (also known as Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts).

In FY 2011, funding was provided to 10 tribes through the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Planning Initiative, including funding for 2 tribes to implement ($700,000) and 4 tribes to enhance ($673,804) their Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts. Additionally, one tribe received support with planning resources to create a veterans’ treatment court. TLPI and the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) coordinated their resources to provide TTA for these efforts.

TLPI’s TTA services included onsite visits to Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts, enhancement training, and publications. In FY 2011, resources included—

NDCI provides TTA services including planning and enhancement training. In FY 2011, resources included:

Success Stories

Case Referrals to the St. Regis Mohawk Healing to Wellness Court
The St. Regis Mohawk Healing to Wellness Court received a 2009 implementation grant from BJA and continues to operate today. The tribe established a unique relationship with the Franklin County District Attorney, who was willing to refer tribal citizens facing state criminal charges to the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court. In addition, the district attorney and the town judge have agreed to refer adult tribal citizens to the court. More recently, a local Assistant U.S. Attorney, who has been working with the court to address the Oxycontin problem within the territory, agreed to refer a pilot case to the court. These unique relationships ensure that the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court attracts clients who will benefit from the tribal structure of the drug court. One member of the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court team serves a dual role of both police officer and Department of Social Services investigator; this unique and valuable member of the court team allows for greater communication between these two tribal services, particularly in alcohol- and drug-related criminal matters involving parents with dependent children. The officer not only helps supervise clients but also makes referrals to the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court directly from the field.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians Planning for a Veterans’ Treatment Court
The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota participated in BJA-sponsored planning activities to develop a veterans’ tribal drug court. Judges of Minnesota’s Ninth Judicial District passed a resolution in support of a collaborative court with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and the tribe continues to meet with judges and county attorneys from several counties in the Ninth District. Veterans’ treatment courts use the drug court model to serve veterans struggling with addiction, serious mental illness, and co-occurring disorders. They promote sobriety, recovery, and stability through cooperation and collaboration. Partners include organizations traditionally involved with drug and mental health courts, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans’ Benefits Administration, volunteer veteran mentors, and veterans and veterans’ family support organizations. The tribe reports more work is needed in this planning stage.

Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance Program

The Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance (TCCLA) program provides grants, policy leadership, training, and technical assistance to support federally recognized tribal nations in enhancing their tribal justice systems and improving access to those systems. The grants are, by statute, limited to 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organizations. The goal of TCCLA is to strengthen and improve the representation of indigent defendants in criminal cases and indigent respondents in civil causes of action under the jurisdiction of American Indian tribes.

In FY 2011, the TCCLA program received 28 applications and made 6 awards totaling $3,036,221. TCCLA’s Category 1 (Civil Legal Assistance) received 19 applications and made 2 awards totaling $899,048; Category 2 (Criminal Legal Assistance) received 9 applications and made 2 awards totaling $1,537,173; and Category 3 (Training and Technical Assistance Services) received 8 applications and made 2 awards totaling $600,000.

Tribal Reentry

Within the context of the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) community, “reentry” is not a specific program, but rather it is a process and collection of evidence-based services that begins with initial incarceration and ends with successful community reintegration and lack of recidivism. However, the needs are many and challenges are riddled with jurisdictional issues. In 2009, according to the Tribal Justice Plan, of the 29,400 confined AI/AN offenders, the vast majority were held in off-reservation facilities: 14,646 in state prisons or facilities (50 percent), 9,400 in off-reservation jails (32 percent), and 3,154 in federal prisons (11 percent).

With so many offenders returning to their community from federal, state, or local prisons or jails (not to mention those returning from tribal correctional facilities), coordination between the correctional authorities and Indian tribes becomes critical. It is also critical to develop community-based programs to assist in the seamless transition of offenders from correctional facilities to the community. However, resources are minimal, which requires further coordination among federal agencies, tribal agencies, and other organizations to deliver services. Despite the challenges, tribes are effectively addressing the return of offenders with community-based programs. One tribe has also begun to address the needs of justice-involved veterans through planning for a veterans’ treatment court.

Second Chance Act of 2007

The Second Chance Act of 2007 (see chapter 5 for more information) continues to provide tribes with assistance in responding to increased numbers of incarcerated adults and juveniles, decreasing recidivism among inmates returning to communities, and promoting public safety.

National Reentry Resource Center Tribal Affairs Advisory Committee

The Tribal Affairs Advisory Committee of the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) helps to inform BJA on tribal reentry challenges and makes recommendations to address these matters. Members of the committee include tribal criminal justice practitioners, researchers, and BJA staff. They have been instrumental in creating FAQs for the NRRC web site, and they attended national tribal conferences to educate tribes and DOJ grantees about TTA resources offered by NRRC. Additionally, the committee contributed to the development of the Tribal Justice Plan and will be involved in its implementation.

Webinar Series: Offender Reentry in Indian Country & Native Communities

In 2011, BJA led and coordinated the eight-part Offender Reentry in Indian Country & Native Communities webinar series. Developed as a followup to the e-publication, Strategies for Creating Offender Reentry Programs in Indian Country, the series introduces tribes to offender reentry principles and initiatives in Indian Country. More than 620 attendees participated in at least 1 of the 8 webinars. In addition to BJA, sponsors included the U.S. Departments of Justice, Interior, and Health and Human Services; the U.S. Federal Probation and Pretrial Services’ Indian Country Steering Committee; and national organizations such as NRRC, APPA, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Indian Country Law Enforcement Section. Webinar recordings are available on the NRRC web site.

Success Stories

Wisconsin Tribal Community Reintegration Program
The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin developed the Wisconsin Tribal Community Reintegration Program (WTCRP) in partnership with the Menominee Tribe, Stockbridge Munsee Tribe, and the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council. Funded under the FY 2010 Second Chance Act Prisoner Reentry Initiative, this reentry program will work with tribal offenders from all correctional institutions within the State of Wisconsin, focusing on correcting general causes of recidivism while emphasizing social and cultural responsibility with both the individual and the community. The program will serve 100 American Indian offenders over 3 years, and its primary goals will be to decrease the 5-year recidivism rate for American Indian offenders, decrease the 1-year revocation rate for American Indian offenders, and provide a seamless transition for adult ex-offenders from the Wisconsin prison system to their tribal community. Equally important, the WTCRP will benefit the Wisconsin Department of Corrections by building on evidence-based practices that complement American Indian cultures and traditions.

Developing a Risk/Need Assessment Tool for Specialized Corrections Populations
In 2011, the Crime and Justice Institute released findings from a study titled, Developing a Risk/Need Assessment Tool for Specialized Corrections Populations, which examined risk–needs–responsivity principles (see chapter 5 for more information) in the context of American Indian and Hispanic offender populations. The study places particular emphasis on the responsivity principle, which requires interventions to be delivered in ways that match the personal characteristics of individual offenders, including cultural variables. The mixed-methods research design of the study offered a broad spectrum of data, and findings from the analysis included:

  • Risk and needs assessment tools used in the research sites were valid predictors of risk for Hispanic and American Indian offenders.
  • Risk assessment scoring, when examining average recidivism rates by risk level, varied for Hispanic and non-Hispanic groups.
  • There were no differences between American Indians and non-American Indians on risk assessment scoring when examining recidivism by risk level.
  • Of the theoretical culturally competent practices tested, two were especially effective: having Hispanic and American Indian staff in probation and parole settings was associated with reductions in recidivism, and offering cultural competency trainings was found to be associated with reduced recidivism.

Tribal Justice Information Sharing System

With BJA support, the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute, National Center for Rural Law Enforcement, developed and administers the Tribal Justice Information Sharing System (TJISS). The program is designed to provide TTA resources to tribal law enforcement and criminal justice practitioners nationwide. A 2-day hands-on course titled “Crime Data Collection and Reporting” instructs tribal criminal justice practitioners on collecting and reporting crime data by use of the Uniform Crime Reports/National Incident-Based Reporting System, reporting benefits to the tribe, classifying crime data, preparing for the reporting process, and identifying the different methods available to the tribes in reporting crime data. The course blends instructor-led classroom lectures with hands-on lab exercises using a mobile computer training lab. The hands-on exercises depict actual reporting forms and processes. Training in crime data collection and reporting is important to tribes because it gives the statistical data that enables them to show a need for specific funding. During 2011, TJISS developed course materials and delivered courses at the following locations:

During 2011, tribes from across the nation gained access to many resources available from the TJISS web site, including a crime data collection and reporting video tutorial and an electronic manual that provide tribal law enforcement personnel with tools to assist them in collecting and reporting their crime data, model law enforcement policies and procedures, job descriptions, work schedules, mutual aid agreements, and mentoring for newly appointed chiefs of police or public safety directors. The TribalShare listserv, which is available to all tribal criminal justice practitioners, serves to facilitate information sharing among the various tribes and across jurisdictional boundaries and disciplines. In addition, an online TTA needs survey from TJISS collects information from tribal criminal justice practitioners regarding their TTA needs, which will serve to enhance the tribes’ justice information sharing capabilities. All of these resources were delivered electronically.

Technical assistance is available online from the TJISS project web site or by calling a toll-free help desk.

Success Story

Collaboration With the Federal Bureau of Investigation
In FY 2011, members of the TJISS project staff traveled to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services (FBI/CJIS) headquarters in Clarksburg, West Virginia to acquire information about crime data collection and reporting from the experts at that location. The valuable information collected during that visit enabled the project staff to develop course materials in-house instead of paying a subject-matter expert. In addition, because of the professional relationship established with the FBI/CJIS staff, project instructors can teach courses at no cost to the project. The project staff continues to market the program and to receive and respond to requests for TTA. As a result of this effort four additional training sites have been scheduled and confirmed.

Expanding Anti-Gang Training Into Indian Country

In 2011, BJA—in partnership with the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and through the National Gang Center—conducted an initial series of anti-gang training courses in Indian Country that will continue in 2012. The courses include an overview of gang activity in the region, instruction on the intelligence process and the role of gang investigators in the process, strategies and tactics effective in suppressing gang activity, and advice on the use of gang-specific legislation in the investigation and prosecution of gang crime.

The Indian Country training courses included 166 tribal, state, county, or federal law enforcement officers and representation by the 4 U.S. Attorney’s Offices:

In 2012, the second training series will conclude with a March 6–8, 2012, training in Phoenix, Arizona. A sixth training—“Gangs in Indian Country”—will be preceded by a meeting to review the 2 years’ worth of trainings and further refine the curriculum.

Success Story

Gang Training Helps Investigators Nab Gang Leader of Sovereign Natural Warriors
On November 14, 2011, investigators of the Native American Drug and Gang Initiative (NADGI) Task Force arrested Paul Shegonee, the leader and founder of the Sovereign Natural Warriors (SNW), on the Oneida reservation. Shegonee, who had been a fugitive for several weeks, was debriefed about SNW and gave an historical overview of the organization. This arrest was the work of representatives of the several agencies who attended the anti-gang training, which included information about sharing gang intelligence and working informants.

Created in 2007, NADGI, composed of nine Wisconsin tribes, takes a multijurisdictional approach to combating and reducing drug and gang activity. Its mission is to share information and investigative resources to serve Wisconsin tribes and surrounding communities and to help reduce violence and crime on American Indian reservations.

Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resources for Indian Country

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) established a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault in America’s correctional settings. Once fully implemented, PREA will:

Although there has been a concerted effort to educate correctional facility personnel nationwide regarding their increased accountability under PREA, until recently there has been limited targeted TTA to assist tribal detention facilities in improving their capacities to prevent and address sexual violence.

BJA, through a cooperative agreement with APPA, has developed and delivered critical policy and practice guidance to assist tribal detention personnel in strengthening responses to sexual violence within detention settings. Through the Development of PREA-Related Products for Indian Country project, APPA has developed and delivered a variety of TTA resources to educate tribal detention staff at all levels about PREA, its implications for detention facilities in Indian Country, and strategies to enhance the prevention and response to sexual abuse within tribal detention settings. Resources developed through this project include a training curriculum for frontline tribal detention staff, a policy development guide for tribal detention facility administrators, a national bulletin, and a brochure for tribal leaders.

Early in 2011, APPA project staff and consultants developed a training curriculum, “Preventing and Addressing Sexual Abuse in Tribal Detention Facilities: The Impact of PREA.” This comprehensive training package includes an instructor’s manual, participant manual, PowerPoint presentation slides, and supplemental resources. The program is designed to educate frontline detention staff and supervisors in tribal detention facilities (including jails, lock ups, and other tribal correctional facilities) on PREA, its implications for tribal detention facilities, and strategies that can be used to better prevent and respond to incidents of sexual abuse. The curriculum was designed for delivery as a 1-day training program, but the design also allows for individual modules to be used for delivery within a shorter timeframe.

APPA project staff and consultants conducted 2 pilot tests of the training program with a total of 55 tribal detention professionals representing 19 different jurisdictions/tribes. The first training event was held in November 2010 at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Reservation near Scottsdale, Arizona. The second training event was hosted in February 2011, in conjunction with the APPA Winter Training Institute in Orlando, Florida. At the conclusion of each training event, participants completed evaluations, and appropriate revisions were made to the training curriculum. Upon final approval from BJA, the training curriculum package was published electronically and posted to the APPA web site for free download.

APPA also published Preventing and Addressing Sexual Abuse in Tribal Detention Facilities: A Policy Development Guide. This policy development guide provides guidance and recommendations for tribal detention facility administrators in developing appropriate policies and procedures for the prevention and response to incidence of sexual abuse. It also provides background information on the incidence of sexual abuse within jails in Indian Country and nationwide, discusses the implications of PREA for tribal detention facilities, and provides specific policy guidance based on proposed national standards developed through PREA. This publication is also available for free download from the APPA web site.

The APPA project published two other products: a tribal PREA bulletin and a brief brochure. The PREA bulletin was developed as a primer for tribal detention professionals and tribal leaders on PREA, its implications for tribal detention facilities, and resources available to tribal detention staff. APPA printed and disseminated approximately 250 hardcopies of this publication. The brochure was designed to provide tribal leaders with an overview of the problem of corrections-based sexual abuse and the importance of efforts to address it. It introduces readers to PREA and identifies resources available to assist tribal communities and detention programs in enhancing their policies, procedures, and practices related to sexual abuse prevention and response. Both products are available on the APPA web site for free download.

Success Story

Development of Prison Rape Elimination Act-Related Products for Indian Country
Sexual abuse can be a difficult topic to discuss with any audience, but the issue is considered particularly taboo among many native cultures. Therefore, the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) was very sensitive in developing the content of the TTA materials produced for this project and the marketing materials developed to promote the pilot training events conducted early in FY 2011.

One of the primary goals identified by project staff and consultants was to develop TTA materials that clearly convey important information about sexual abuse and appropriate prevention and response strategies, but in a manner that promotes open dialogue and participation by the target audience. One measure of the project’s success in achieving this goal is the number of registrations to the two pilot training events. For both events, registrations submitted to APPA met or exceeded the number of available slots. For the first training event, the maximum class size was expanded from 25 to 34. Despite this expansion, APPA had a waiting list of 27 individuals. For the second training event, the maximum number of registrations was met at 25 (although 4 individuals unexpectedly unable to attend the training). Since the two pilot training events, APPA has received several additional requests for training on this topic. The number of visits to the APPA web site for project publications also demonstrates the success of the project and its products. Since October 2011, the number of web visits for each publication is:

  • Training Curriculum/Instructors’ Manual: 61
  • Training Curriculum/Participant Manual: 33
  • Training Curriculum/PowerPoint Slides: 60
  • Policy Development Guide: 119
  • Tribal Bulletin: 55
  • Brochure: 66

These statistics clearly show a high level of interest, especially considering the relatively recent publication of these products and the fact that there are approximately 80 tribal detention facilities nationwide.


1 BJA held a spring consultation session in Scottsdale, Arizona, to gather input from tribal leaders in order to develop the plan. BJA made further outreach to criminal justice practitioners through four webinars and three focus groups in Scottsdale, Arizona; Billings, Montana; and Rapid City, South Dakota. Additionally, BJA created a dedicated e-mail address——to gather comments more broadly from tribes and the public on the draft Tribal Justice Plan. In December 2011, the Winter Consultation session was held at the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico to prioritize implementation of the plan.

2 DOJ components included the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office for Victims of Crime, Bureau of Prisons, National Institute of Corrections, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, and Office of Civil Rights.

3 TLPI, 2003, Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Key Components (