DOJ Funds Special Attorneys To Prosecute Crimes Against Native American Women

Published: Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 7:29pm
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2018 - 8:43am

The Office on Violence against Women at the Department of Justice will provide funding for a special prosecutor to focus on crimes against women in the Salt River Pima Indian Community. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the new funding Thursday.

The OVW was created in 1995 by the Violence Against Women Act. Katie Sullivan, acting director, says her office supports “programs that develop coordinated community responses to combat domestic violence, stalking, dating violence, and sexual assault.”

Sullivan says her office will provide $437,500 for a Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney or “SAUSA.”

“It will be an attorney that agrees to come and work both in the tribal court and in the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan says the SAUSA will only prosecute crimes on the reservation relating to the focus of the Violence Against Women Act.

According to a 2016 report from the National Institute of Justice, more than 55 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women experienced “physical violence by an intimate partner." 

The Salt River Pima Indian Community was one of four locations selected for the funding.

“We reach out to U.S. Attorneys and their tribal liaisons to find out where they think there is a need, as well as a tribe who’s willing work with a tribal SAUSA,” Sullivan said, calling the new position a go-between for the tribal and federal courts.

Sullivan said success of a pilot project for Tribal SAUSAs that began in 2012 resulted in the programming receiving additional support.

The new positions are funded for three years. Sullivan says she will work to increase the number of Tribal SAUSAs annually.

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