Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced Justice Department reforms to address what has been called an "epidemic" of violence against women in Indian Country.
Lynn Rosenthal, White House Adviser on Domestic Violence, explained:
As part of broader DOJ reforms to dramatically improve public safety in tribal communities, the Attorney General recognized that though there is no "quick fix," we "must continue our efforts with federal, state, and tribal partners to identify solutions to the challenges we face." After holding listening sessions with tribal leaders across the nation, he directed all 44 U.S. Attorneys' Offices with federally recognized tribes in their districts to reinvigorate efforts to combat and prosecute violent crime, particularly against women and children. And he announced an additional $6 million to hire Assistant United States Attorneys-and additional victim specialists-to assist with the ever-growing Indian Country caseload.
The DOJ's renewed commitment to public safety on reservations followed the March, 2009 release of "Addressing the Epidemic of Domestic Violence in Indian Country by Restoring Tribal Sovereignty," an ACS Issue Brief by Professor Matthew Fletcher of Michigan State University College of Law. There, Fletcher explained that Native American women residing on Indian reservations suffer from dramatically higher rates of domestic violence and sexual assaults than do women elsewhere. And, tragically, perpetrators often went unprosecuted.
In a memo sent to every U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) with a district containing Indian Country, Assistant Attorney General David Ogden wrote that, in the development of the USAO's plans for prosecuting crimes committed on reservations, "I direct every U.S. Attorney to pay particular attention to violence against women, and to work closely with law enforcement to make these crimes a priority."
[Image via c@rljones.]