Tribal Law & Order Act

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 is a law, signed into effect by President Barack Obama, that expands the punitive abilities of tribal courts across the nation. The law allows tribal courts operating in Indian country to increase jail sentences handed down in criminal cases over Indian offenders. This was a major step toward improving enforcement and justice in Indian country—and a precursor to VAWA 2013.

The purposes of the Tribal Law and Order Act are to:

  • Clarify the responsibilities of the federal, state, tribal, and local governments with respect to crimes in Indian Country;
  • Increase coordination and communication among federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies;
  • Empower tribal governments with the authority, resources, and information necessary to safely and effectively provide public safety in Indian Country;
  • Reduce the prevalence of violent crime in Indian Country and to combat sexual and domestic violence against Alaska Native and Native American women; prevent drug trafficking and reduce rates of alcohol and drug addiction in Indian Country; and
  • Increase and standardize the collection of criminal data to and the sharing of criminal history information among federal, state, tribal, and local officials responsible for responding to and investigating crimes in Indian Country.

ILOC Report: A Roadmap For Making Native America Safer
The Indian Law and Order Commission released its final report and recommendations—A Roadmap For Making Native America Safer—as required by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. These recommendations are intended to make Native American and Alaska Native nations safer and more just for all U.S. citizens and to reduce the unacceptably high rates of violent crime that have plagued Indian country for decades. This report reflects one of the most comprehensive assessments ever undertaken of criminal justice systems servicing Native American and Alaska Native communities. Review the Executive Summary.

Tribes Exercising Enhanced Sentencing Provisions of TLOA:
Cherokee Nation (Oklahoma)
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (Oregon)
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (North Carolina)
Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation (Montana)
Hopi Tribe (Arizona)
Muscogee (Creek) Nation (Oklahoma)
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (Arizona)
Tulalip Tribes (Washington)

Bureau of Prisons Pilot Project to House Tribal Offenders Sentenced in Tribal Courts
In November 2010, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) launched a four-year pilot program to accept certain tribal offenders sentenced in tribal courts for placement in BOP institutions. The pilot program allows any federally recognized tribe to request that BOP incarcerate a person convicted of a violent crime under the terms of the TLOA and authorizes BOP to house up to 100 tribal offenders at a time, nationwide. On November 20, 2012, a referral was transmitted by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation for the placement of an enrolled tribal member in Bureau custody. The defendant, who was convicted of assault by the Umatilla Tribal Court, was accepted by BOP and transferred in January 2013 to FCI Herlong. The defendant is the Bureau's first TLOA pilot participant. Two additional inmates have been admitted under the program since then.

On May 7, 2014, a report was submitted to Congress as required by section 234(c)(5) of the TLOA. This report describes the status of the program, including recommendations regarding the future of the program, if any. In the report, the BOP states that it supports the TLOA pilot program and recommends making the current pilot program permanent, so that it remains available as a resource for tribes. The next step will be to wait for action from Congress on the recommendation.