Alaska Tribal Justice Gets $100M Boost From DOJ

     (CN) — The Justice Department said Monday it will offer more than $100 million in grants to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve public safety, help victims and strengthen tribal institutions.
     The money – which will fund over 200 individual grants – was announced during the two-day Tribal Nations Conference held at White House.
     American Indians and Alaska Natives experience disproportionate rates of violence and victimization and often encounter significant obstacles to accessing culturally relevant services, according to the Justice Department. The funding will help tribes to develop and strengthen tribal justice systems’ response to crime, while significantly increasing programs and services available to them.
     “Today, as a result of our shared efforts, the relationship between the federal government and the nation’s 567 sovereign tribes — a relationship rooted in mutual respect and sustained by open dialogue — has never been stronger,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said on behalf of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was delayed arriving at the eighth and final conference.
     “To be sure, it is not a perfect relationship. But it is a relationship of which we can all be proud. We reaffirm our commitment to creating a stronger and safer nation for all our people,” Yates said.
     The amount includes 236 grants totaling over $102 million under the department’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, which will go to 131 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, tribal consortia and tribal designees.
     The Office on Violence Against Women also announced seven awards worth more than $2 million to help tribes implement changes in their criminal justice systems necessary to exercise their jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes as outlined in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
     An additional six awards amounting to $3 million will go to support juvenile justice grants for the American Indian/Alaska Native Defending Childhood Policy Initiative and a National Institute of Justice grant to study sex trafficking on tribal land.
     “These vital grants support everything from hiring law enforcement officers to empowering native youth, giving tribes the resources they need to meet the particular challenges facing their communities,” Lynch said in a statement. “We are also proud to continue support for those tribes exercising greater authority over crimes of domestic violence that is today making communities safer and stronger.”
     Since the grant program’s inception in 2010, more than 1,600 grants and $726 million have been spent to enhance law enforcement practices, victim services and sustain crime prevention and intervention efforts in nine purpose areas: public safety and community policing; justice systems planning; alcohol and substance abuse; corrections and correctional alternatives; children’s justice act partnerships; services for victims of crime; violence against women; juvenile justice; and tribal youth programs.
     The grants are part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
     A listing of today’s CTAS awards can be found here. A fact sheet on CTAS is available at www.justice.gov/tribal/grants.

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