Murkowski Fights for Rural Justice Commission Return

Senator Authorizes for VPSOs and Rural Health Aides in VAWA

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski is proposing a framework to restart the Alaska Rural Justice and Law Enforcement Commission -- which has exhausted its authorized funding levels – in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Other Murkowski provisions successfully included in the bill during a Senate Judiciary Committee working session promote the health and safety of Alaskan women in remote locations.

 “The Rural Justice Commission has been a critical component to provide public safety in rural Alaska,” said Murkowski.  “It’s an example of an effective state and federal partnership that protects village residents. If we are to address this challenging issue for our state, we need to get the Rural Justice Commission back up and running.”

At Senator Murkowski’s request the bill also specifically:

  • Includes Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs) in the definition of law enforcement officers that can be funded via federal grants.
  • Allows grant funds to be used to help Community Health Aides in rural Alaska respond to the needs of sexual assault and domestic violence victims.
  • Directs Attorney General Eric Holder to consult with Alaska and report back to Congress whether federal appropriations to the commission should continue.

The Rural Justice Commission was created by Senator Ted Stevens in a 2004 appropriations bill. But that funding has run out, and Senator Murkowski is determined to make every effort to sustain its work.  As presently constituted, the Rural Justice Commission includes representatives of the Alaska US Attorney’s Office, the State of Alaska, regional tribal consortia, municipalities and Alaska tribes.

Senator Murkowski is a cosponsor of S.1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.