Attorney General Tells Murkowski Tribal Justice “Must Be Improved”
Senator Raises Alaska Native Challenges to Forefront in Senate Hearing
Senator Lisa Murkowski raised the issue of Alaska’s rural safety challenges to the nation’s top law enforcement official: Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Murkowski seized the opportunity of Ms. Lynch’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee to get Ms. Lynch’s thoughts on tribal courts, human trafficking, drug trafficking and the difficulties in getting full-time law enforcement for some villages.
Lynch committed to Murkowski that she would participate in a dialogue with Senator Murkowski and the Alaska Federation of Natives in the near future to find the best ways to improve Alaska’s rural safety procedures – and warned of the dangers of “sliding backwards” if the DoJ does not sustain the momentum in providing for Alaska Natives that it has developed in recent years.
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In response to Senator Murkowski’s request for a commitment to Alaska Natives, Lynch said:
“The commitment that the Department of Justice and our nation have made to Indian Country over the last several years has shown great promise, but it is one that must be sustained, maintained and improved upon. We have several items in this year’s budget that go to tribal justice, the Office of Violence Against Women for example. Because it is such an important issue to me, I’ll outline them because we are asking for an increase of $100 million, but part of that money would go to tribal grants. $20 million would go to the Crime Victims Assistance Program, $5 million would go to the Office of Violence Against Women’s Domestic Violence program.”
“I firmly believe that this commitment must not only be maintained but expanded upon, lest we run the risk of sliding backwards, particularly with the challenges faced by Alaska having such a land mass and dealing with the law enforcement challenges there. We have to have a system in place that works, but can also be maintained.”