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Tribal Law and Order Act

On July 29, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act into law. Indian reservations nationwide face violent crime rates more than 2.5 times the national rate as a result of lack of training and funds for Tribal justice systems. The broad purpose of the Act is to provide tribes with the tools to combat crime locally and establish measures of Federal agency accountability for investigating and prosecuting crime in Indian country.

What Tribes Need to Know

Increased Tribal Court Sentencing Authority
The maximum authorized criminal sentence is now three (3) years if the defendant has or is provided an attorney and other federal criminal procedure rules are followed. More information

Evidence Sharing
Federal prosecutors are required to share evidence to support prosecutions in tribal court. More information

Declination Data
Federal law enforcement officers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are required to maintain data on decisions not to investigate or prosecute alleged violations of federal criminal law in Indian Country. Attorney General required to submit an annual report to Congress on investigations and prosecutions in Indian country that were terminated or declined. More information

Federal Official Testimony
Federal officials who work in Indian country are required to testify about information gained in the scope of their duties to support a prosecution in tribal court. More information

Warrantless Arrests
BIA law enforcement officers are authorized to make warrantless arrests in Indian country based on probable cause for misdemeanor offenses involving controlled substances, firearms, assaults, or liquor trafficking. More information

Communications and Data Sharing
BIA Office of Justice Services Replaces Division of Law Enforcement in the Department of Interior (DOI) is required to:

  • Communicate with tribal leaders, tribal community and victims’ advocates, tribal justice officials, and residents of Indian land on a regular basis regarding public safety and justice concerns
  • Provide technical assistance and training to tribal law enforcement officials for gaining access to crime information databases
  • Collect, analyze, and report data on crimes in Indian country on an annual basis
  • Share with the Department of Justice (DOJ) crime data received from tribal law enforcement agencies on a tribe-by-tribe basis
  • Submit spending report on tribal public safety and justice programs and technical assistance and training provided to tribal law enforcement and corrections agencies to House Committee on Natural Resources and Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Incarceration in Indian Country
Secretary of the Interior is directed to submit to Congress a long-term plan to address incarceration in Indian country. More information

Appointment of Tribal Prosecutors
Attorney General is authorized to appoint tribal prosecutors and other qualified attorneys to assist in prosecuting federal crime committed in Indian country. More information

Appointment of Tribal Liaison
Each United States Attorney whose district includes Indian country is required to appoint at least one assistant United States Attorney to serve as a tribal liaison for specified purposes that include coordinating the prosecution of federal crimes that occur in Indian country, combating child abuse, and domestic and sexual violence against Indians, and providing technical assistance and training on evidence gathering techniques. More information

Native American Issues Coordinator
Position established in the Executive Office for United States Attorneys the position of Native American Issues Coordinator, to coordinate with United States Attorneys in prosecuting crimes in Indian country. More information

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is directed to establish a prescription drug monitoring program at the health care facilities of the Indian Health Service, tribal health care facilities, and urban Indian health care facilities and report to the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the program. More information

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention
The Attorney General, in conjunction with the HHS Secretary and the Secretary of Interior is directed to:

  1. conduct and assessment of federal and tribal agencies to carry out data collection and analysis relating to prescription drug abuse in Indian communities;
  2. Provide training to Indian health care providers and other Indian tribal officials to promote awareness and prevention of such abuse and strategies for improving agency responses to addressing it;
  3. Report to the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on prescription drug abuse prevention activities.

Tribal Court Funding
Three tribal court funding acts were reauthorized:

  1. Indian Tribal Justice Act
  2. Tribal Court Assistance Program;
  3. Training and Technical Assistance under Public Law 106-559.


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