Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction over Non-Indians in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization and the SAVE Native Women Act [April 18, 2012]   [open pdf - 280KB]

"Domestic and dating violence in Indian country are at epidemic proportions. However, there is a practical jurisdictional issue when the violence involves a non-Indian perpetrator and an Indian victim. Indian tribes only have criminal jurisdiction over crimes involving Indian perpetrators within their jurisdictions. Most states only have jurisdiction over crimes involving a non-Indian perpetrator and a non-Indian victim within Indian country located in the state. Although the federal government has jurisdiction over non-Indian-on-Indian crimes in Indian country, offenses such as domestic and dating violence tend to be prosecuted with less frequency than other crimes. This creates a practical jurisdictional problem. Legislation introduced in the 112th Congress, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (S. 1925 and H.R. 4271) and the SAVE Native Women Act (S. 1763 and H.R. 4154), would recognize and affirm participating tribes' inherent sovereign authority to exercise special domestic violence jurisdiction over domestic violence involving non-Indian perpetrators and Indian victims occurring within the tribe's jurisdiction. It is not clear whether Congress has authority to restore the tribes' inherent sovereignty over non-members, or whether such authority would have to be a delegation of federal authority."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42488
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