INDIAN COUNTRY INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS, 2011-2012: Annual Report to Congress by the U.S. Department of Justice
July 4, 2013 Comments Off on INDIAN COUNTRY INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS, 2011-2012: Annual Report to Congress by the U.S. Department of Justice
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued its first annual report on Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions as required by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) is broad legislation designed to improve and enhance law enforcement in Indian country. Among many other measures to improve law enforcement, the TLOA seeks to hold federal agencies accountable by requiring the Department of Justice to file an annual report with Congress on criminal investigations and prosecutions in Indian country.
The DOJ’s report, which covers only criminal matters reported to federal (and not tribal or state) agencies, reflects the increased priority placed on law enforcement efforts in Indian country and provides data showing an increase in the criminal caseload of federal agencies of 54% between 2009 and 2012. The report’s executive summary sets forth several major points based on the data:
- The FBI referred a “substantial majority” of Indian country criminal investigations to the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for prosecution.
- The USAO prosecuted a “substantial majority” of the Indian country criminal cases it opened.
- When the FBI did not refer a case to the USAO (but instead closed its investigation), the most common reason was the FBI’s conclusion that no federal crime had occurred.
- When the FBI investigated a death, but closed the investigation without a referral to the USAO for prosecution, the primary reason was a conclusion that the death was due to an accident, suicide, or natural causes.
- In 2011, the USAO declined to prosecute just under 37% of Indian country criminal cases submitted to it for prosecution. In 2012, the USAO declined to prosecute approximately 31% of Indian country cases submitted. The two most common reasons for declining to prosecute were insufficient evidence (61% of cases in 2011 and 52% in 2012) and referral to another prosecuting authority (19% in 2011 and 24% in 2012).
A copy of the DOJ’s report is available here.
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 Other steps to improve law enforcement under the TLOA include increased training and funding for Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal law enforcement officers, improved communication and coordination of efforts between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and tribal officials, increased sentencing authority granted to tribal courts, deputization of tribal prosecutors that allows prosecution in federal court, and prevention and treatment programs focusing on at-risk youth and drug and alcohol problems.