Judicial Systems and Public Safety
The Tribal Law and Order act of 2010 and the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2014 give Tribes strong incentives to invest in their judicial systems. Tribes whose courts reach certain benchmark standards in procedures and respect for the rights of the accused can now sentence defendants to up to three years in custody and can sentence certain non-native offenders who commit crimes of domestic violence against American Indians on the reservation. Former United States Attorneys Tim Purdon and Brendan Johnson were part of the team at the Department of Justice who pushed for these changes in VAWA. They worked with the Tribes in their states, North Dakota and South Dakota, and nationwide, to implement the changes necessary for Tribes to take advantage of these new laws. Based on their DOJ service, Tim and Brendan have experience in what it takes to implement the necessary code revisions, structural changes, and hiring decisions that often need to be made in Tribal court systems to take advantage of these new opportunities for Tribes to take greater control of the public safety destiny of their reservations.