Addressing Crime and Justice for American Indians and Alaska Natives

BJA works with tribes to provide leadership, management, TTA, and 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 nations and in collaboration with neighboring state, tribal, and local jurisdictions. Key areas of focus included continued enhancement of coordinated services through the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) and related TTA, as well as focus on implementation of the Tribal Law Order Act (TLOA), including the Tribal Justice Plan priorities such as developing Alternatives to Incarceration, enhancing planning tribal justice systems and physical infrastructure to be more sustainable and responsive to needs, and enhancing strategies to higher risk tribal members, including reentry from detention.

Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation

In FY 2012, DOJ continued its CTAS initiative, which enables tribes to submit a 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 by responding to multiple “purpose areas.” BJA funds projects in three CTAS purpose areas:

In FY 2012, 249 tribes submitted applications, and more than 200 DOJ grant awards were approved for funding, totaling more than $101 million. (TTA resources are described below in the Intergovernmental Collaboration and Tribal Justice System Capacity Building sections.)

Develop and Enhance the Operation of Tribal Justice Systems and Prevent and Reduce Alcohol and Substance Abuse-Related Crimes

CTAS Purpose Area #3: Justice Systems and Alcohol and Substance Abuse combines TCAP and Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program (IASAP) funds and TTA to provide tribes with flexibility in addressing their needs in these areas. TCAP provides funding and TTA to federally recognized tribal governments to develop, implement, and enhance court services and programs that meet the needs of tribal communities. IASAP helps tribal governments plan, implement, or enhance culturally appropriate strategies for addressing crime related to alcohol and substance abuse. In FY 2012, BJA expanded this purpose area to allow tribes to apply for funding to purchase electronic alcohol/ offender monitoring devices and related equipment.

In FY 2012, BJA awarded 17 TCAP and 16 IASAP site-based grants totaling more than $16.1 million, 1 TCAP TTA award for $1.2 million, and 1 IASAP TTA award for $782,000 under CTAS Purpose Area #3.

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

BJA funding also enabled the National Tribal Judicial Center (NTJC) at NJC to conduct 22 TCAP training events for 439 individuals, plus provide financial assistance in the form of travel/lodging/per diem for BJA grantees and non-grantees to attend these events; provide financial assistance to 56 judges and court personnel to attend NTJC courses that are tuition based; and offer financial assistance to 360 judges and court personnel to attend grant-funded courses or events.

In addition, Fox Valley Technical College’s (FVTC) National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC) trained more than 1,000 individuals through 16 training programs, including regional trainings, national conferences, and academy sessions. NCJTC responded to 30 IASAP TTA requests (including site visits, extensive phone and email consultations, program-specific trainings and presentations, and grant management training/assistance). NCJTC provided 214 scholarships for tribal personnel to attend local, regional, and national program-specific training events. Staff conducted two field assessments, which resulted in two publications (one for alcohol/substance abuse program needs and one for CTAS improvements).

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

Through CTAS Purpose Area #4: Correctional Systems and Correctional Alternatives on Tribal Lands (CSCATL) Program—formerly the Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands Program—BJA provides site-based grants and funding for TTA projects to assist tribes with adult and juvenile detention and rehabilitative efforts. BJA expanded the scope of Purpose Area #4 to include the construction of transitional living facilities (halfway houses) and made specific outreach to tribes who are interested in or have transitional housing to share information on offender reentry resources.

In FY 2012, BJA awarded seven site-based grants—totaling nearly $8.4 million—for renovation and construction of correctional and alternative correctional facilities, which included funding a project to renovate a women’s transitional living facility. Additionally, BJA awarded supplemental funding to the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) to provide TTA to CSCATL grant recipients and tribes that do not currently have a grant with BJA.

As part of the work plan for the CTAS Purpose Area #4 TTA Program, NIJ, in partnership with EKM&P, conducted the Planning of New Institutions (PONI) for Tribal Communities for grant recipients on May 14–18, 2012 in Chandler, Arizona. Twenty-six participants representing 11 grantee tribal communities attended this workshop. The PONI training, developed by EKM&P, included dynamic hands-on exercises that walked the participants through common planning, design, and staffing challenges in the development of facilities. The success of this training has led to the development of an online resource that may be used in concert with the PONI training staff to provide one-on-one or webinar-based training for future planning grantees.

BJA also extended a logistical and support services contract with Alpha Corporation, who works with CSCATL grantees to ensure that projects are using cost and schedule strategies efficiently to achieve project goals. Alpha, in partnership with the Justice Solutions Group (JSG) and NIJC, works with grantees to ensure: (1) 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; (2) grantees who received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding are adhering to the act’s requirements; and (3) grantees are adhering to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. In FY 2012, Alpha provided logistical and support services to 40 CSCATL projects in 17 states, totaling $228 million in grant awards. Alpha completed 35 site visits and provided detailed site visit reports on project scope, design, construction schedule, and budget status as well as an indepth analysis of the grantee’s ability to fulfill project goals. Alpha also assisted six grantees in obtaining NEPA clearance.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-Funded Projects

A total of 20 tribes received FY 2009 BJA grants for the construction and/or renovation of justice facilities in Indian Country under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In FY 2012, BJA in partnership with JSG and Alpha Corporation continued to assist ARRA grant recipients with project implementation and completion.

Nine grantees began construction during FY 2012: Confederated Salish & Kootenai (Montana); Colorado River Indian Tribes (Colorado); Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes (Montana); Native Village of Kwinhagak (Alaska); Navajo Nation–Kayenta (Arizona); Navajo Nation Tuba City (Arizona); Nisqually Tribe (Washington); Puyallup Tribe (Washington); and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (North Carolina).

Four projects completed construction: Pascua Yaqui Tribe (Arizona) (July 2012); Rosebud Sioux Tribe (South Dakota) (September 2012); Yakama Nation (Washington) (March 2012); and Chippewa Cree Tribe (Montana) (June 2012). Grand opening ceremonies for the new facilities were held by the Yakama Nation (May 2012) and the Chippewa Cree Tribe (May 2012). In addition, four facilities were activated during this time period: Yakama; Yankton Sioux Tribe (South Dakota); Chippewa Cree Tribe; and Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

During FY 2012, JSG provided facility activation workshops and onsite technical assistance to all of the tribes listed above to assist with transitional issues.

Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance Program

The Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance (TCCLA) Program provides grants, policy leadership, and TTA to support federally recognized tribal nations in enhancing their tribal justice systems and improving access to those systems. The grants are targeted to nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax status and serve to strengthen the representation of indigent defendants in criminal cases and indigent respondents in civil causes of action under the jurisdiction of Indian tribes. These services also target tribes that meet the federal poverty guidelines. A third category funds TTA that supports the development and enhancement of tribal justice systems.

In FY 2012, BJA made four TCCLA Program grants totaling $2,286,218: two awards in Category 1, Civil Legal Assistance for $912,659; one award in Category 2, Criminal Legal Assistance for $875,000; and one award in Category 3, TTA for $500,000.

The National American Indian Court Judges Association, through its National Tribal Justice Resource Center (NTJRC), serves as the TCCLA Program TTA provider to current grantees (civil and criminal) and those tribal organizations seeking either to become TCCLA grantees or to provide civil legal assistance or public defender services to their communities. Launched in 2012, 12 program announcements were sent out to more than 7,900 individuals and organizations. In addition to providing technical assistance, the NTJRC staff responded to more than 50 telephone and e-mail requests for information or referrals, including referrals to other TTA providers, e-mailing of publications (such as bench books and manuals), and the provision of contact information. NTJRC developed a web site,, that serves as an information center for TCCLA grantees and other tribal justice stakeholders. In addition, NTJRC developed an e-publication on resources and information to tribal communities seeking to apply for TCCLA funding.

BJA and NTJRC hosted the inaugural meeting of the TCCLA Program with more than 30 participants from TCCLA Program grantee organizations, Indian tribes, and criminal justice practitioners from throughout the nation to discuss civil legal assistance and criminal indigent defense in the courts of Indian tribes and the research and resources needed to support them.

Training and Technical Assistance

In FY 2012, BJA accomplished the development of products, services, tools, and opportunities to assist tribal nations build tribal justice system capacity, support tribal-state collaboration initiatives, and engage in information sharing. In addition to the descriptions and web sites listed throughout this chapter, other initiatives are highlighted below.

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts

In FY 2012 BJA sponsored training for 10 tribes through the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Planning Initiative, including funding for one tribe to implement a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court. The Planning Initiative gathers all court team members together offsite for 1 week of training on team member roles and responsibilities, incentives and sanctions, and policies and procedures, and readies teams to implement new tribal drug court programs within 6 months of the training.

TLPI and the NADCP’s National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) coordinated resources to provide TTA for these efforts. TLPI performed 10 onsite TTA visits to review the implementation of Tribal Adult Wellness Court program policies, services, and operations; conducted three national trainings, three statewide trainings, and one webinar; provided online access to TLPI publications; and maintained the Healing to Wellness Court web site. NDCI performed one 5-day training for 10 Tribal Healing to Wellness Court planning teams at the Fort McDowell Tribe in Arizona; maintained the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court database (available at, including a map of operational Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts and other drug courts; and continued to conduct a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court symposium and a training track at the NADCP annual conference.

Tribal Probation Academy

Through the Tribal Justice System Capacity Building solicitation TTA Program, BJA supports the Tribal Probation Academy (TPA), conducted through a partnership between the American Probation and Parole Association and Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC). TPA provides up-to-date information to new and experienced probation officers serving in tribal communities and teaches them the skills they need for effective case management, officer safety, and career development. With BJA funding, FVTC’s NCJTC trained more than 164 individuals through two 4-week Tribal Probation Academies. NCJTC provided conference presentations specific to tribal probation, community corrections, and reentry at 5 national training conferences and provided 34 scholarships to attend additional local, regional, and national probation-specific training events.

Tribal Justice System Capacity Building

BJA has explored how its funds can be used to support TLOA implementation, if desired by a tribe, including TTA. In response, BJA released a solicitation with multiple purpose areas in FY 2012 to identify and select technical assistance partners to build capacity among tribal justice system infrastructure and practitioners. The FY 2012 awards will augment BJA’s robust portfolio of TTA partnerships to provide assistance on issues including increasing alternatives to incarceration; probation and programs related to substance abuse and crime; planning, renovating, and building tribal justice facilities; support for implementing enhanced sentencing authority; and supporting intergovernmental collaboration with federal, state, and local justice systems.

Tribal Justice Information Sharing System

The Tribal Justice Information Sharing System (TJISS) was developed and is administered by the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute, National Center for Rural Law Enforcement. The program is designed to provide TTA resources to tribal law enforcement and tribal criminal justice practitioners nationwide. A 2-day hands-on course titled “Crime Data Collection and Reporting” instructs tribal criminal justice practitioners how to collect and report crime data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and National Incident-Based Reporting System; how reporting benefits the tribe; classifying crime data; preparing for the reporting process; and the different methods available to the tribes in reporting crime data. A blended learning approach incorporates instructor-led classroom lecture with hands-on lab exercises by use of a mobile computer training lab. The exercises depict actual reporting forms and processes. In FY 2012, TJISS staff delivered 8 courses at tribal locations throughout the country and trained 129 criminal justice practitioners.

In addition, technical assistance is available online from the TJISS project web site ( or via a toll-free help desk. Resources available include a “Crime Data Collection and Reporting” video tutorial and an electronic manual that serve as guides to assist tribes in collecting and reporting their crime data; law enforcement model policies and procedures; sample job descriptions; work schedules; mutual aid agreements; and a mentoring service for newly appointed chiefs of police or public safety directors. A tribal share listserv is available to all tribal criminal justice practitioners. This tool serves to facilitate information sharing between the various tribes and across jurisdictional boundaries and disciplines.

A Tribal Justice Information Sharing TTA online survey collects information from tribal criminal justice practitioners regarding their TTA needs that will enhance their tribe’s justice information-sharing capabilities. A total of 265 tribal criminal justice practitioners, representing 86 tribes, have completed the survey. During FY 2012, TJISS project staff completed 691 technical assistance requests and disseminated 2,563 publications.

Other Tribal Initiatives

In FY 2012, BJA staff led and offered subject-matter expertise to listening sessions with tribal leaders as well as implementation of tribal law and order-related activities, designed to support development of strategies and investments to reduce crime and enhance safety, support tribal justice system capacity building and planning, and coordinate resources and programs across the federal government.

Tribal Justice Plan Implementation

BJA—in partnership with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)—coordinated outreach among federal agencies, Indian Country, and Native American communities to implement recommendations and action steps within the Long Term Plan to Build and Enhance Tribal Justice Systems (Tribal Justice Plan). The Tribal Justice Plan is a long-term detention, alternatives to incarceration, and offender reentry plan for American Indian adults and juveniles. BJA is working with other federal agencies to implement the recommendations and action steps to enhance alternatives to incarceration, explore strategies to enhance the provision of federal services and resources to support tribal justice systems infrastructure, and manage high-risk tribal offenders, especially during reentry.

Outcomes achieved to date include enhanced provision of funding and TTA from BJA for alternatives to incarceration including tribal probation, risk assessment, and healing to wellness; assessing and planning tribal justice system needs and strategies; and expanding construction funding and TTA to support tribal justice facilities other than detention including multipurpose justice centers, transitional housing, and treatment facilities.

In FY 2012, BJA, in partnership with BIA and OJJDP, hosted a pair of webinars on the TJP and implementation progress. In addition to webinars, a listening session that discussed TJP implementation progress was held at the 15th Tribal Justice, Safety and Wellness Session in Tulsa, Oklahoma in October 2012. Lastly, three sets of focus groups were held in the fall of 2012 on the major TJP priorities in conjunction with Indian Country events in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Prior Lake, Minnesota; and Green Bay, Wisconsin. These focus groups provided a forum to update tribes on current activities and gathered further comments from tribes on the implementation plan. Indian Country and Native American communities affirmed primary themes that were identified  during the planning phase.

Intergovernmental Collaboration

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

In FY 2012, through BJA funding, NCAI and NCJA continued the Tribal–State Collaboration and Justice Capacity Building Project. This effort involves creating and compiling material for a core curriculum that will train tribal and state justice officials in Public Law 280 (known as PL280) and non-PL280 jurisdictions to enhance collaboration between state and tribal justice systems. The project will also offer access to an online, interactive toolkit with examples of promising practices and practical applications.

To accomplish these activities, a pilot initiative with two sites—Minnesota and North Dakota and tribes therein—was initiated. NCJA and NCAI will conclude the pilot by convening the tribal and state justice officials who participated to review pilot activities, identify areas of success, and establish criteria for future intergovernmental cooperative efforts between tribes and states.

The 2-day November 2012 tribal-state North Dakota meeting included more than 60 participants, with 4 Indian tribes attending, along with state government participants. Those in attendance were eager to learn more about findings of the Indian Law and Order Commission and felony sentencing under TLOA. Key issues identified  by tribal-state teams were lack of resources (e.g., personnel, equipment) and treatment to address increasing violence and the presence of substance abuse in tribal communities. Strategies were identified  that included building and maintaining tribal-state relations, utilizing offender risk and needs assessments, reviving traditional methods of justice, and communicating between disciplines and national law enforcement databases, such as the National Criminal Information Center. Next steps include identifying points of contact between tribes and sharing information and promising practices.

Additionally, through TLPI, BJA developed two publications: Promising Strategies: Public Law 280 and Promising Strategies: Tribal-State Court Relations. Both publications focus on: (1) encouraging intertribal coordination, cooperation, and collaboration; (2) capacity building for alternatives to incarceration; and (3) providing toolkits to assist those wishing to replicate the various promising strategies. These publications are featured on the Walking on Common Ground web site.

In FY 2012, the web site Walking on Common Ground ( was launched and highlights tribal-state court collaboration, promising practices, and resource toolkits to assist those wishing to replicate these practices. Other resources include web addresses for federally recognized tribes and counties in the United States, tribal-federal collaborations, and tribal-state legislative committees. In addition, information is included on alternatives to incarceration in tribal justice systems as they relate to capacity building and evidence-based practices.

Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee

In FY 2012, BJA was represented on the Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee (IASA Committee), which provides final guidance, direction, and coordination to the appropriate federal efforts in assisting tribes to implement Tribal Action Plans as they relate to alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment. The IASA Committee coordinates federal resources and programs to assist tribal communities in achieving their goals in the prevention, intervention, and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse among tribal members. Other members of the IASA Committee include representatives from SAMHSA, OJP, BIA, Bureau of Indian Education, and Indian Health Services.