The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

ILOC: Make Native America Safer Through Autonomy

Tribal leaders attend the signing of the TLOAThe Indian Law and Order Commission (ILOC) has released a report with recommendations to make Native American and Alaska Native nations "safer and more just for all U.S. citizens" and to reduce high rates of violent crime among Tribal nations. The ILOC final report, called "A Roadmap for Making Native America Safer", was required by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, Public Law 111-211 (TLOA).

The TLOA was passed with three goals in mind: allow more autonomy for Tribal justice systems, including running their own court systems; make Federal agencies more accountable for serving Tribal people; and "enhance cooperation among Tribal, Federal, and State officials in key areas such as law enforcement training, interoperability, and access to criminal justice information."

The ILOC uses the Roadmap to recommend improvements, both for the short term and the long term, in the structure of the Native American justice system. The Roadmap also assesses the effectiveness of TLOA.

American Indian and Alaska Native communities are typically far less safe than most non-Tribal locations across the country. The ILOC points to the U.S. government's policies as the cause for this gap in safety, stating that Federal policies have severely diminished institutions for which Native Tribes could effectively self-govern. And while Federal agencies enforce laws through task forces, working with Homeland Security, and etcetera, Federal agencies that operate on Tribal lands and peoples are almost entirely non-local and inflict unnecessary damage to Tribal communities.

Some of the ILOC's recommendations are matters of branch policy; others make specific recommendations that require legislation on the Federal level which allow Tribal communities to create their own judicial systems that are independent of the Federal government.

Overall, the ILOC feels that Tribal Nations will be most effective if they have the freedom to host their own criminal justice systems without much interference from the Federal court system. Although the high rates of crime among Native American tribes paints a rather bleak picture, the ILOC's report feels that giving more judicial control to Native Americans and Alaskan Natives will greatly reduce rates of crime over time.