Letter to Congress: Pass the Tribal Law and Order Act
April 26, 2010
Dear Representative/Senator Smith,
As representatives of diverse religious faiths and beliefs, we write in support of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 (HR 1924/ S 797). We ask that you honor the two and a half million American Indians and Alaska Natives in our country by cosponsoring this essential bill.
Native Americans, the poorest ethnic group in the United States, live in the midst of a public safety crisis and are therefore a doubly victimized people. Crime rates on reservations are devastating. The average crime rate for American Indians/Alaska Natives is 2.5 times the national average. On some reservations however, the crime rate reaches 10 or 20 times the national average. Native American women suffer from an epidemic of domestic and sexual violence, as one in three Native women is raped in her life time. The criminal justice system is so weak that tribal authorities are left with no way to respond to crime on the reservation. Crimes often do not get reported because victims and families are all too aware of the broken system.
The Tribal Law and Order Act, written in direct consultation with tribal leaders, addresses some of these problems. It does this by:
• expanding tribal access to federal and state records,
• providing greater federal and state accountability and transparency in criminal justice processes,
• streamlining protocols and policy regarding domestic violence and sexual abuse, and
• requiring the federal justice system to report and explain the declination of cases.
When Indian tribes ceded their lands, the United States made promises through treaties and other agreements. Among them was the establishment of a trust responsibility for the safety and well-being of Indian peoples in perpetuity. We believe that honoring the trusts and treaties is a legal and moral imperative. As people of faith, we urge you to cosponsor the Tribal Law and Order Act to fulfill this responsibility.
Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ) ∙∙ The Episcopal Church ∙∙ Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ∙∙ Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker) ∙∙ Islamic Society of North America ∙∙ Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office ∙∙ Missionary Oblates ∙∙ National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd ∙∙ National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA ∙∙ Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office ∙∙ Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations ∙∙ National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA ∙∙ United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries ∙∙ United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society ∙∙ VIVAT International