Attorney General Eric Holder announced the allocation of 33 new Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) positions to 21 judicial districts that contain Indian Country. The department has also launched three Indian Country Community Prosecution Teams. These new resources will enable the Justice Department to work with tribal and state law enforcement partners to improve public safety in tribal communities.
“Violent crimes, and particularly crimes against women and girls, continue to devastate tribal communities across the country, and the U.S. Attorney community is crucial to the Department of Justice’s response,” Attorney General Holder said. “With 33 more federal prosecutors headed to Indian Country, and the launch of three new Community Prosecution Pilot Projects, we have made significant progress finding and implementing solutions to the public safety challenges confronting tribal communities. This Administration is committed to reducing the level of violent crime in tribal communities.”
The new AUSA allocation is the result of $6 million provided in the department’s FY2010 budget for the hiring of prosecutors in Indian Country. Districts were asked to submit requests for additional prosecutors, which were reviewed with relevant statistical data by a team of U.S. Attorneys and staff from the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys. Thirty AUSAs will be distributed to districts as follows:
District of Alaska: 1;
District of Arizona: 5;
District of Colorado: 1;
Eastern District of Michigan: 1;
Western District of Michigan: 1;
District of Minnesota: 1;
Southern District of Mississippi: 1;
District of Montana: 3;
District of Nebraska: 1;
District of Nevada: 1;
District of New Mexico: 2;
Northern District of New York: 1;
District of North Dakota: 1;
Northern District of Oklahoma: 1;
Western District of Oklahoma: 1;
District of Oregon: 1;
District of South Dakota: 2;
District of Utah: 1;
Eastern District of Washington: 1;
Western District of Washington: 1; and
District of Wyoming: 2.
Three additional AUSAs have been allocated for the three community prosecution pilot projects, which will be initiated with three Tribal Nations: the District of New Mexico will launch a pilot with Navajo Nation within the New Mexico border; the District of South Dakota will launch a pilot with the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation; and the District of Eastern Wisconsin will launch a pilot with the Menominee Indian Tribe. Each Community Prosecution Team will include an AUSA and a victim-witness position (also funded through the FY2010 allocation), and will be assigned to work on a regular basis on the reservation of a specific Tribal Nation. The pilot project was developed in an effort to bring the federal criminal justice system closer to Indian Country, and to improve collaboration between federal and tribal prosecution and law enforcement. The AUSA in each of the pilots will work with the tribal community to identify key objectives and strategies for that community and work with the tribe to implement solutions.
The announcement was developed with the help of recommendations that have been gathered by department leadership as part of a department-wide initiative on public safety in tribal communities. As part of this effort, department officials conducted a series of meetings addressing violent crime in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. In October 2009, Attorney General Holder convened a national Tribal Nations Listening Session and the Justice Department held its annual tribal consultation on violence against women. The department again had the opportunity to engage with tribal leaders on public safety in tribal communities during the White House Tribal Nations Conference in November 2009. In addition to these sessions with tribal leaders, department leadership has conducted meetings with tribal experts on law enforcement and public safety efforts.
For more information on the department’s public safety initiative, go to:http://www.tribaljusticeandsafety.gov