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Office on Violence Against Women Announces New Program to Support Tribal Governments

This new program was authorized in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) and received its first appropriation in fiscal year 2016. 

VAWA 2013 recognizes tribes’ inherent power to exercise “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” (SDVCJ) over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders in Indian country.  Specifically, tribes can investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence Indians and non-Indians who assault Indian spouses or dating partners or violate a protection order in Indian country.

“VAWA 2013 closed jurisdictional gaps that had long compromised American Indian and Alaska Native women’s safety and access to justice,” said Principal Deputy Director Bea Hanson for OVW.  “And this new grant program is another step in the department’s ongoing effort to help tribes across the country make full use of the SDVCJ authority.”

The Tribal Jurisdiction Program encourages the coordinated involvement of the entire tribal criminal justice system and victim service providers to incorporate systemic change that ensures victim safety and offender accountability.

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