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Senate Bill Seeks to Improve Law Enforcement in Alaskan Communities

On May 21, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved, by voice vote, the Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act (S. 1474).

Sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), the bill’s findings indicate that “Alaska Native women suffer the highest rate of forcible sexual assault in the United States and an Alaska Native woman is sexually assaulted every 18 hours” and “one in two Alaska Native women experience physical or sexual violence.”

The measure seeks to improve the administration of justice in Alaska Native communities by encouraging states and Indian tribes to enter into intergovernmental agreements relating to the enforcement and adjudication of state laws relating to drug and alcohol offenses. In addition, the legislation would enhance coordination and communication between tribal, state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies.

The bill would repeal the limitation of tribal jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes and the issuance and enforcement of protection orders within Alaska, as enacted in the Violence Against Women Act (P.L. 113-4).

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