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Indian Tribal Courts Program

Understanding that increased law enforcement activity on reservations would impact already over burdened tribal justice systems, $5,000,000 was appropriated to establish the Indian Tribal Courts Program to be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). BJA announced in June 1999, as part of the Initiative, the availability of grants to support the development, enhancement and continuing operation of tribal judicial systems. At the same time, grants to develop an extensive training and technical assistance program to serve the tribal court grantees as well as all other tribal judicial systems were also announced.

Forty-six tribes were awarded tribal court planning grants of $30,000 each. Six of those grants were awarded for the development of inter-tribal courts. Enhancement grants of up to $50,000 each were awarded to fifteen tribes and larger grants of up to $100,000 were awarded to another fifteen tribes. A majority of the enhancement projects involve efforts to improve the processing of tribal court caseloads through the implementation of case management computer software. Other funded projects include one or more of the following components: development or revision of tribal codes and/or rules of procedure; hiring of additional personnel such as prosecutors, criminal defense counsel and judges; purchase of needed equipment such as recording systems and fireproof storage cabinets; law library materials and access to computerized legal research and training for tribal judges and court personnel.

In May of 2000, technical assistance grants were awarded to: the Alaska Intertribal Council to work with planning grantees in the State of Alaska, the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Institute to serve planning grantees in the lower 48 states, and NAICJA to assist tribes receiving enhancement grants and to establish a national tribal court resource center.


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