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SCIA Oversight Hearing to receive testimony on ILOC Report

On February 12, 2014, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing to receive testimony on the ILOC Report. Five panelists testified at the Hearing: Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, U.S. Attorney-District of North Dakota Tim Purdon, ILOC Chairman Troy Eid, ILOC Commissioner Affie Ellis, and Alaska Tribal Victim Advocate Tamra Truett Jerue. The six Senators present included Chairwoman Cantwell (WA), Vice Chairman Barrasso (WY), Senator Murkowski (AK), Senator Begich (AK), Senator Tester (MT), and Senator Heitkamp (ND). 

View a recording of the SCIA Oversight Hearing here.

Questions and discussion between SCIA members and witnesses focused on declination and prosecution rates of U.S. Attorneys, collaboration between federal and tribal prosecutors, BIA policy of not funding PL 280 tribes, overrepresentation of Native juveniles, lack of communication between the Interior and Justice Departments, Alaska public safety (and repeal of VAWA 2013 Section 910), and the recommendation of a specialized appellate court.

Federal officials did not directly address the ILOC Recommendations, noting that they plan to consult with tribes first. Federal officials did discuss several pilot programs that they are conducting to address crime. Assistant Secretary Washburn highlighted the BIA’s High Priority Performance Goal program, noting that its focus will shift from reducing crime rates to reducing recidivism. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon, testifying for DOJ, discussed a variety of U.S. Attorney outreach programs that are working to bring the federal justice system to Indian Country, including mentoring Native youth, and working tribal prosecutors to handle federal cases locally.

The second panel of witnesses testified that the ILOC offers common sense recommendations that will streamline funding and services, and bring justice to Indian Country where the local control works to legitimize the justice system. ILOC Chairman, Troy Eid, stated, “The federal system and the PL 280 system are not working. In America, local justice is what we all trust. Local control and self-government are the goals. Indian Nations must be able to develop the system that works best for their own communities.”

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