VAWA Criminal Jurisdiction Over Non-Indians: NCAI Launches Technical Assistance Website

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 included historic provisions that reaffirm tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in certain domestic violence cases.

When this provision takes effect nationwide on March 7, 2015, Indian tribes will be able to prosecute non-Indians who abuse Indian women on tribal lands for the first time since the Oliphant v. Suquamish decision.  Importantly, there  are a number of due process requirements that must first be met. NCAI has developed a website to assist tribes as they implement the new law: http://www.ncai.org/tribal-vawa.

The website includes a tribal code checklist, which offers a quick guide to the due process requirements. Additionally, the website collects information from the Inter-Tribal Technical Assistance Working Group (ITWG), which is a collaboration of 40 tribes sharing information and advice on how to best implement VAWA, combat domestic violence, recognize victims’ rights and safety needs, and safeguard defendants’ rights. Three of the ITWG tribes have also been participating in a DOJ Pilot Project that allowed them to begin exercising jurisdiction over non-Indians last year.  Materials from the three pilot tribes are available, which offer useful examples of how individual tribes have modified tribal code language and constructed jury pools for VAWA cases. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has also developed a very useful “Practical Guide to Implementing VAWA and TLOA.”

The website includes past webinars on a variety of VAWA implementation topics, including: jury pools and selection; defendants’ rights; protection orders; and victims’ rights. Finally, the website will track any VAWA updates and upcoming events. All tribes seeking to implement SDVCJ are also encouraged to join the Intertribal Technical-Assistance Working Group (ITWG). Please contact tribal-vawa@ncai.org for more information or with any questions.

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