JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $21 MILLION IN AWARDS TO ASSIST TRIBAL COMMUNITIES WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND JUSTICE SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS
WASHINGTON, DC - The Justice Department today announced awards of over $21.4 million to the nation's Indian tribal communities for law enforcement and justice system improvements, Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels, of the Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP), announced today. These awards include funds for tribal courts assistance, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, juvenile and mental health programs, victim assistance and criminal history records enhancements.
"With these grants, we are assisting tribal governments as they address issues involving crime, violence and substance abuse," said Assistant Attorney General Daniels. "Through improvements to their justice systems and law enforcement capabilities, these governments will be better equipped as they strive to keep their communities safe."
The grants are being administered by the Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP), through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). The initiatives are designed to enhance tribal criminal and juvenile justice systems, improve the handling of child abuse cases and service delivery to victims of crime, and support tribal efforts through technical assistance and training. In addition, the Justice Department's Office of Tribal Justice and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk (part of OJP's Community Capacity Development Office) support outreach to tribal communities, which includes helping tribes access grant funds.
The awards were announced at a Tribal Leaders Listening Conference sponsored by OJJDP. The conference is being held on September 27 and 28 in Washington, D.C. and will enable tribal community members to acquaint federal officials with the challenges facing organizations that work with Indian youth, as well as tell them about effective regional programs and practices that serve at-risk young people. Topics to be discussed include education, employment, ethnic and cultural stereotypes, health issues, alcoholism, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, violence and victimization. The conference was scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington.
The Tribal Courts Assistance Program (TCAP), administered by BJA, provides court-related support to tribal justice systems. In Fiscal Year 2004, BJA awarded 38 TCAP grants totaling more than $8.1 million. TCAP works to develop new tribal courts, improve the operations of existing tribal courts, and provide funding for tribal court staff technical assistance and training.
OJJDP's Tribal Youth Program (TYP) helps tribal communities prevent juvenile delinquency, reduce violent crime, and improve tribal juvenile justice systems. More than $7.7 million was awarded during 2004 to 28 tribal governments or organizations under this program, which OJJDP oversees as part of the Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative, a joint activity of the Justice and Interior Departments. In addition, three awards totaling approximately $674,000 were made under TYP's Mental Health Initiative to help tribal communities provide substance abuse prevention, intervention and mental health services to youths who are involved in or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. The initiative was established in response to substance abuse and mental health problems that severely impact Indian young people.
OJJDP also awarded three grants totaling $860,674 under the Tribal Juvenile Accountability Discretionary Program, which helps tribes strengthen their juvenile justice systems by ensuring that youth are held accountable for their offenses.
OVC's grants to tribes were directed toward child abuse issues. Fourteen grants totaling more than $1.5 million were awarded through the Children's Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities Grant Program, which helps Indian tribes improve the investigation, prosecution and handling of child abuse cases. OVC also awarded 25 grants totaling more than $2.5 million through the Tribal Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant program, which helps Indian tribes and tribal organizations establish victim assistance programs in remote areas of Indian Country.
This December, OVC will sponsor the 9th National Indian Nations: Justice for Victims of Crime Conference. It will be held December 9 through 11 in Palm Springs, California and once again be coordinated by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute through grant funds provided by OVC. The conference will bring together Native American victims, victim advocates, tribal leaders and victim service providers, as well as federal and state agency representatives and resources to share their knowledge, experiences and ideas for developing programs that serve the unique needs of crime victims in Indian Country.
More information on these or other OJP initiatives can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov. OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed program and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk.