Tribal Criminal Justice Access to Federal and State Criminal Data Bases
Enacted: Apr 2012
WHEREAS, there are 565 federally recognized tribes in the United States of America that are comprised of more than 2,786,652 enrolled members;
WHEREAS, Native Americans represent only .8% of the total United States population, yet are the third largest owners/managers of land in the United States with 55.7 million acres of which some lands border Mexico or Canada;
WHEREAS, tribes are recognized by the United States Government as sovereign nations;
WHEREAS, enrolled tribal members have dual citizenship, that of an enrolled member of their own tribe and that of the United States;
WHEREAS, tribes maintain criminal justice systems comprised of police, courts, probation and other legal services for their citizens;
WHEREAS, tribal efforts have often been hampered and hindered by federal Indian policy and Supreme Court decisions including the Major Crimes Act, the Dawes Act, Termination Policies, the Oliphant Decision and Public Law 280 which create myriad complex jurisdictional issues, gaps in justice services and tribal citizen protection;
WHEREAS, these Indian Policies and Supreme Court decisions have prevented tribal criminal justice agencies from operating in a full and complete manner by limiting them with a lack of authority over felony offenses committed on tribal lands and a lack of authority over non-Indian people living on or visiting tribal lands as well as restricted access to federal National Crime Information Center (NCIC) or state criminal justice databases;
WHEREAS, access to criminal information is an essential function for tribal police and probation officers to be able to assess the level of threat posed by individuals on supervision and the lack of access to criminal history information creates unsafe conditions for tribal police and probation officers;
WHEREAS, tribal courts and probation services must attempt to make critical decisions relating to sentencing, treatment, punishment, incarceration, and re-entry without access to vital criminal history information entered into non-tribal databases causing situations that are not only dangerous to the community but also inhibits the probation officer’s ability to create individualized supervision plans based upon accurate and complete information;
WHEREAS, tribal courts, police departments and probation departments are increasing in numbers annually yet often lack the support of or cooperation from neighboring non-tribal agencies in information sharing;
WHEREAS, Section 233 of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-211) requires the Department of Justice to allow tribal law enforcement agencies to enter and access information into federal criminal information databases.
WHEREAS, state law enforcement agencies control access to NCIC and other criminal information databases for entities within their state borders;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Probation and Parole Association recognizes and supports the need to allow tribal criminal justice agencies regular and open access to both federal NCIC and state criminal databases for the purpose of operating in the same safe and informed manner as any other justice agency in the United States, thus enhancing the safety of tribal communities as well as the safety of tribal police and probation officers. Further, access to criminal databases will enhance tribal probation officers’ abilities to develop comprehensive supervision plans based on complete and accurate information in order to improve supervision outcomes for probationers in Indian Country.