How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex Justice Department official says

By Lindsay Whitehurst THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON (AP)- A quarter-century ago, the Justice Department had few meaningful relationships with Native American tribes. While the federal government worked with state and local police and courts, tribal justice systems did not have the same level of recognition, said Tracy Toulou, who oversaw the department’s Office of Tribal Justice from 2000 until his recent retirement. “They were essentially invisible,” he said. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Toulou built the office from an idea into an “institution within the Justice Department.” Its relationships with the nation’s 574 federally recognized tribes are important, in part because federal authorities investigate and prosecute a set of major crimes on most reservations. Public safety statistics reflect the serious challenges. Native Americans and Alaska Natives are more than twice…

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