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U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), vice chairman of the Committee, released the following statements on introduction of their bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA) in the Senate.
“Nearly a decade ago, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 restored Tribal jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes, recognizing Tribes’ right to exercise their authority and giving them resources to go after criminals,” said Chairman Schatz. “Today’s introduction makes clear the Senate is serious about strengthening this important law, protecting Native women, children, and families, and restoring justice for Native communities. I am proud of the contributions Committee members made to strengthening the Tribal title and grateful for my bipartisan partnership with Vice Chairman Murkowski. I look forward to seeing this legislation passed into law.”
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 reflects years of input on public safety from stakeholders in all Tribal, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities and will increase access to federal resources and data for Native communities. The bipartisan bill contains a Tribal title based on a Committee discussion draft Schatz and Murkowski released in December, which —
- Maintains US tribal jurisdiction over crimes of dating violence, domestic violence, and violations of tribal civil protection orders first put in place by the 2013 VAWA reauthorization;
- Restores US tribal jurisdiction over crimes of child violence, sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, obstruction of justice, and assault of Tribal justice personnel committed by non-Indians offenders
- Ensures all recognized tribes in the US, including Alaska and Maine, can exercise these same important jurisdictional tools to keep their communities safe; and
- Provides US tribes with improved access to critical VAWA implementation resources by: increasing authorization level of the VAWA Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction (STCJ) implementation grant program, expanding the VAWA STCJ implementation grant program to cover Tribes’ reimbursements costs, reestablishing the Bureau of Prisons Tribal Prisoner Program, and codifying the US Department of Justice’s Tribal Access Program to provide all US tribes with access to national criminal information databases.