Violence Against Women: Justice Dept. makes agreements to cross-designate tribal prosecutors

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Announced Today that four tribes in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota will be awarded cooperative agreements to cross-designate tribal prosecutors to pursue violence against women cases in both tribal and federal courts.

The goal of the Tribal Special U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) program is to train eligible tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable criminal offense is prosecuted in tribal court, federal court or both.  The program  enables tribal prosecutors to bring violence against women cases in federal court and to serve as co-counsel with federal prosecutors on felony investigations and prosecutions of offenses arising out of their respective tribal communities.

“We know that violence against Native women has reached epidemic proportions,” said OVW Director Bea Hanson.  “Restoring safety for Native women requires the type of sustained cooperation between the federal and tribal justice systems that we see in the jurisdictions participating in our Tribal SAUSA project.”

Through this special initiative, OVW will support salary, travel and training costs of four tribal SAUSAs, who will work in collaboration with the U.S. Attorneys Offices in the Districts of Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.  Specifically, OVW will award cooperative agreements to four federally recognized tribes to select qualified applicants in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney Offices to serve as cross-designated prosecutors.  These prosecutors will maintain an active violence against women crimes caseload, in tribal and/or federal court, while also helping to promote higher quality investigations, improved training and better inter-governmental communication.

Tailored to meet the particular needs of the participating jurisdiction, these pilot programs are designed to improve the quality of cases, the coordination of resources and the communication of priorities both within and between the various law enforcement agencies working in this area.

The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from the Justice Department’s 2009 Tribal Nation Listening Session on Public Safety and Law Enforcement, and its annual tribal consultation on violence against women.  The Tribal SAUSA initiative is another step in the Justice Department’s on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities, and represents a partnership between OVW, the Executive Office of US Attorney’s and the US Attorney’s Offices in Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The recipients of these awards are:

  • Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico
  • Fort Belknap Tribe in Montana
  • Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in North Dakota and South Dakota