Tester Pushes Bill to Address Missing and Murdered Native Women Epidemic Closer to Final Vote
Savanna's Act named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was murdered last year
(U.S. Senate) – After introducing Savanna’s Act last year to help address the Missing and Murdered Native Women epidemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester and his colleagues on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously voted to advance this critical piece of legislation today, moving it one step closer to becoming law.
“When it comes to ending this epidemic, Native communities have to navigate a jurisdictional maze of bureaucracy,” Tester said. “That’s why we need Savanna’s Act, to improve information sharing between law enforcement agencies, establish better response protocols, and put an end to these crimes committed across Indian Country.”
According to the National Institute of Justice, more than 80 percent of native women have experienced violence-almost half within the last year. As a senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has worked hard to raise awareness about this epidemic, support survivors, and bring their assailants to justice.
Tester’s bill will require the Department of Justice to better collect and report crime data across Indian Country and increase access to federal crime databases that track crimes against Native Americans. It will also create standard guidelines for responding to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans, laying out a clear framework for cooperation between tribal, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
Earlier this year, Tester secured a historic $133 million to help tribes assist survivors of violent crimes through the Crime Victims Fund and is sponsoring legislation to make this source of funding permanent. The SURVIVE Act was passed unanimously out of Committee and is currently awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.
Tester also recently called on the Senate to hold a hearing on the Missing and Murdered Native Women epidemic, after introducing a Senate Resolution that designated May 5, 2018 a “National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.”