CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 725 is being considered on the floor on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ) on January 27, 2009, and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the bill by voice vote on December 16, 2009. On January 19, 2010, the House passed the bill by voice vote. The Senate then amended the bill, replacing the text of the legislation with provisions contained in S. 797, the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.
TITLE I—FEDERAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND COORDINATION
The legislation would replace the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Division of Law Enforcement Services with the Office of Justice Services and add to its current responsibilities. In addition to its current requirements, the Office would be responsible for:
The bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to submit a long-term plan to “address incarceration in Indian country.” The plan would have to include a description of proposed detention facilities and alternatives to incarceration.
The bill would require any federal law enforcement officer or employee that terminates a felony investigation in Indian Country to coordinate with tribal law enforcement officials regarding the status of the case.
H.R. 725 would require the U.S. Attorney in any district that includes Indian Country to appoint at least one assistant U.S. attorney to serve as a tribal liaison for the district. The bill also encourages U.S. Attorneys to appoint Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys in such districts to prosecute minor crimes in Indian Country.
TITLE II—STATE ACCOUNTABILITY AND COORDINATION
H.R. 725 authorizes the U.S. Attorneys to accept concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute violations in Indian Country, with the request of an Indian tribe and the consent of the Attorney General. In addition, the bill would allow the Attorney General to provide technical assistance to state, tribal, and local governments that enter into cooperative agreements, including agreements relating to mutual aid, hot pursuit of suspects, and cross-deputization.
TITLE III—EMPOWERING TRIBAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AND TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS
Tribal Police Officers: The bill would require the Secretary to establish law enforcement training standards consistent with the standards of Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation. Law enforcement personnel of the Office of Justice Services or an Indian tribe may satisfy their required training at a state or tribal police academy, a state, regional, local, or tribal college or university, or other training academy. The bill would set the maximum age for a tribal justice officer at 46 years old and require background check for all officers.
Indian Law Enforcement Foundation: H.R. 725 would establish the Indian Law Enforcement Foundation as a charitable, nonprofit federally chartered corporation. The purpose of the Foundation would be to encourage, accept, and administer private gifts for the support of public safety and justice services in Indian and Alaska Native communities. The bill would also create the Committee for the Establishment of the Indian Law Enforcement Foundation to assist the Secretary in establishing the Foundation. The bill would permit the Secretary to use up to $500,000 of unobligated amounts from FY 2011 through FY 2015 to establish the Foundation.
Access to National Criminal Information Databases: The bill would allow Indian tribes to access national criminal information databases. The bill requires that the Attorney General ensure tribal law enforcement officials meet applicable federal or state requirements to access national crime information databases.
Tribal Sentencing Authority: H.R. 725 would permit tribal courts to impose penalties of up to three years imprisonment or fines of up to $15,000. Under current law, tribal courts may only impose penalties of up to one year in prison. The bill would further stipulate that penalties of greater than one year in prison could be issued for individuals who have been previously convicted of the same or a similar offense or are being prosecuted for an offense comparable to an offense that would be punishable by more than one year in prison if prosecuted in federal or state courts. H.R. 725 would require tribal courts to provide indigent defendants a court-funded defense attorney, require that judges in such cases be licensed and trained in law, and require the tribe to publish its criminal laws.
Indian Law and Order Commission: The bill would establish the Indian Law and Order Commission, composed of nine members appointed by the Attorney General and Members of Congressional Leadership. The Commission would be required to conduct a comprehensive study of law enforcement and criminal justice in tribal communities and make recommendations to improve the Indian justice system. The legislation would permit the Secretary to use up to $2 million annually to support the commission.
TITLE IV—TRIBAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS
Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse: The bill would reauthorize substance abuse programs that provide grants for summer youth programs and the construction of shelters and detention and treatment centers for youth offenders through FY 2015. The bill would authorize $5 million annually to carry out the grant program. The bill would also establish an Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse to coordinate different agency efforts to provide tribal substance abuse programs.
The bill would require that all BIA and tribal law enforcement personnel have training regarding the investigation and prosecution of offenses relating to illegal narcotics, as well as alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment. The bill would authorize “such sums as necessary” through FY 2015 to fund training.
The legislation would also require the Secretary of Interior and the Attorney General, in consultation with tribal leaders and tribal justice officials, to develop a long-term plan for the construction, renovation, and operation of Indian juvenile detention and substance abuse treatment centers.
Tribal Resources Grant Program: The bill would establish the Tribal Resources Grant Program to provide grants to Indian tribal governments, for fiscal year 2011 and any fiscal year thereafter, to assist the Indian tribal governments in carrying out justice programs. The legislation authorizes $40 million annually through FY 2015 to fund the program.
Tribal Jails Program: The legislation would authorize $35 million annually through FY 2015 to provide grants for constructing jails on Indian land. The federal share of the program would be 100 percent.
Tribal Youth Program: The bill would authorize $25 million annually through FY 2015 to provide grants to support tribal juvenile delinquency prevention services and enhance the ability of Indian tribes to respond to, and care for, juvenile offenders.
TITLE V—INDIAN COUNTRY CRIME DATA COLLECTION AND INFORMATION SHARING
The bill would allow tribal governments to collect, share, and access crime data under the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.
TITLE VI—DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT PROSECUTION AND PREVENTION
H.R. 725 would require BIA to provide training to Indian law enforcement to “properly interview victims of domestic and sexual violence and to collect, preserve, and present evidence to Federal and tribal prosecutors to increase the conviction rate.” The bill would also require that any report by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to Congress on the development of Indian victim services and victim advocate training programs include recommendations that the Secretary determines to be necessary to prevent the sex trafficking of Indian women. Finally, the bill would require the Director of the Indian Health Service, in coordination with other tribal and federal organizations, to develop standardized sexual assault policies and protocol for Indian tribes.
H.R. 725 was originally considered and passed in the House on January 19, 2010, by voice vote. The House-passed version of the bill would have authorized any federal law enforcement officer to investigate and prosecute crimes relating to an alleged counterfeiting of Indian arts and crafts. However, the Senate amended the bill to include provisions regarding tribal law enforcement and federal coordination that are contained in S. 797, the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009. Provisions in the amended version of the bill include the reauthorization and creation of numerous commissions, foundations, and grant programs, as well as expanded tribal law enforcement authority and access to criminal database information.
According to CBO, the House-passed version of H.R. 725 would not impose significant federal costs because the Department of Justice estimated that very few cases relating to the sale of counterfeit Indian arts and crafts are investigated each year. However, CBO estimates that the total cost of S. 797, which is nearly identical to the amended version of H.R. 725, would cost nearly $1.1 billion over five years and about $380 million thereafter. Some Members may be concerned that the amended version of H.R. 725 contains many of the same provisions of S. 797 and authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars, yet is being considered on the House floor under a suspension of the rules and without a score from CBO.
A CBO score for H.R. 725 was not available as of press time. However, a score for similar legislation, S. 797, estimated that provisions contained in the bill would cost $1.1 billion over five years and an additional $380 million thereafter.