Tester’s Tribal Criminal Justice Reform Bill Takes Major Step Forward

Legislation Will Give Tribes the Ability to Combat Drug Trafficking and Prosecute Crimes Against Children

(U.S. Senate)-Vice-Chairman Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after his Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act was unanimously passed by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee:

“It is time to address the growing drug epidemic that is plaguing communities in Indian Country. This bill will restore tribes’ ability to arrest and prosecute the folks who bring drugs into their communities or try and harm their children. We are now one step closer to locking up drug dealers, protecting children, and increasing safety in Indian Country.”

Tester’s bill will reestablish the ability for tribes to arrest and prosecute any offender for drug related crimes, domestic violence against children, and crimes committed against tribal law enforcement officers.

In Montana, the Northern Cheyenne, Blackfeet, and Fort Belknap Tribes have all recently declared states of emergency due to the increase in drug related crimes on their reservations.

Currently, many criminals committing drug offenses or crimes against children in Indian Country can only be arrested and prosecuted by state or federal law enforcement officials due in part to the varying level of authority, proximity, and capacity between state, federal, and tribal law enforcement.

Learn the facts about Tester’s Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act HERE.